It’s Not Always Easy Being Green, But With WGL Energy It Is!

MACo would like to thank WGL Energy for “Greening” the 2017 Winter Conference! WGL will donate carbon offsets to counterbalance the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from #MACoCon including energy use, hotel stays, food, and other waste.

WGL Energy explaining their “Greening” process.

Carbon Offsets from WGL Energy are Green-e® Climate certified and derived from third-party verified carbon reduction projects in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Their supply of carbon offsets comes from  carbon-reduction projects in the waste management sector, such as the capture and destruction of methane from regional landfills.

WGL Energy is also investing a portion of the proceeds from carbon offset purchases into the Carbon Reduction Fund, which is managed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The funds are used to develop new greenhouse gas-reducing projects, and improve air and water quality in the Chesapeake Bay region.

Their partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has supported numerous projects including the reduction of fertilizer use through improved farming techniques, community restoration projects and the planting of tens of thousands of trees across the watershed.

WGL Energy is your source for clean, sustainable solutions.

For more on how you can reduce your organization’s carbon footprint, visit the carbon offsets page for government, commercial and industrial customers on their website or stop by WGL Energy’s tabletop booth at MACo’s Winter Conference on Wednesday and Thursday, December 6 and 7.

Thank you, WGL Energy, a MACo Silver Corporate Partner, for your continued support of the Maryland Association of Counties!

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials Honors Harford County Employee

Harford County Emergency Services’ Heidi DiGennaro Named 2017 Line Supervisor of the Year in Maryland

The Mid-Eastern chapter of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) has named Heidi Digennaro the 2017 Line Supervisor of the year.

According to a Harford County press release:

Heidi won the award for her strong work ethic, positive attitude
and for serving as a role model within her department.

Pictured from left: Rick Ayres, Harford County deputy director of Emergency Services; Director of Administration Billy Boniface; Heidi DiGennaro; County Executive Barry Glassman; Ross Coates, public safety communication manager. (Photo Courtesy: Harford County)

APCO International is the world’s oldest and largest organization of public safety communications professionals and supports the largest U.S. membership base of any public safety association. It serves the needs of public safety communications practitioners worldwide – and the welfare of the general public as a whole – by providing complete expertise, professional development, technical assistance, advocacy, and outreach.

Read the full press release for more information.

Conduit Street Podcast, Episode #5 – The Power of Partnership

MACo’s Winter Conference will focus on intergovernmental cooperation and ways that counties can partner with entities in the public and private sector to achieve the best results for Maryland’s residents. Sessions will highlight collaboration across county lines and service areas to address priorities like the opioid epidemic, Next Gen 9-1-1, and the environment, along with other important topics like mutual aid agreements and cooperative purchasing.

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson discuss the MACo Winter Conference and its focus on reviewing timely issues that will be relevant during the upcoming Maryland General Assembly Session.

MACo has made the podcast available through both iTunes and Google Play by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to the podcast.

Listen here:

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

MACo’s Weekly County News & Notes… from Twitter

The social media site Twitter has become a fast-moving setting for news, information, and advocacy on public affairs. We welcome followers of MACo’s own Twitter feed for updates from the Conduit Street blog and other MACo hot topics, and often use Twitter to reach our own audience, and to hear from others following the same issues as county leaders.

Here are some tweets that caught our eye this week:

Follow MACo
Follow Executive Director Michael Sanderson
Follow NACo
See Tweets on #mdpolitics

MACo Exploring County Workers’ Comp Pool

MACo mark color
MACo continues the process of exploring workers’ compensation options for Maryland county governments.

The Maryland Association of Counties speaks with entities interested in performing a feasibility of a county self-insurance group.

Additional workers’ compensation insurance options, including a county government self-funded workers’ compensation group, could provide alternatives to Maryland counties that purchase insurance and re-insurance on the open market. MACo is exploring the viability of creating such a group through a feasibility study RFP process.

For more information, click here for the Feasibility Study Request for Proposals or contact Robin Eilenberg at MACo.

Harford Sees Uptick In Student Enrollment

After seven straight years of enrollment declines, Harford County Schools enrollment increases by 354 students

In another sign that enrollment in Harford County’s public school system has begun to stabilize after years of steady declines, the system recorded a slight gain in total students since last fall. The school system reports having 37,796 students compared to 37,442 students at the same time last year.

According to The Aegis,

Enrollment increased this year over last year in the three key categories. Enrollment in elementary schools increased by 109 from 17,484 to 17,593. Enrollment in middle schools increased by 161 from 8,492 in the 2016-17 school year to 8,653 on Sept. 30. Enrollment in high schools increased by 88 students from 11,271 a year ago to 11,359 this year.

In the fourth category, combined enrollment from John Archer and Alternative Education declined by four from 195 to 191 this year.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Harford Schools Enrollment Decline Stabilizes, But 6,800 Empty Seats Remain

Harford schools reverse recent trend, add students

“Further Discussion” Topics Would Dramatically Change School Construction Funding

Knott Commission members discuss areas of potential consensus, leaving several areas for further discussion untouched.

The Knott Commission is nearing its December reporting date. Areas of potential consensus, according to a handout distributed at the 21st Century School Facilities Commission (the Knott Commission), include conducting a statewide facility assessment using an integrated data system. Areas for further discussion, however, would determine how that facility assessment is used, and other changes to state school funding distribution.

As pointed out by Commissioner and Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner, those areas for further discussion could have a major effect on school construction funding. However, the areas for further discussion were not discussed this week.

For example, one area for further discussion includes how the results of the assessment are incorporated into project funding decisions. Another relates to how changing eligible costs for school construction could result in funding for fewer projects per year, and yet another describes the possibility of removing capital maintenance projects from eligibility for state school construction funding.

Chairman Martin Knott said the Commission will finalize its recommendations before its final meeting in December.

“If anyone thinks we’re stuck in the past, we’re not. We’re moving forward. We’re taking bold initiatives,” Knott said.

For more information, see the video of the hearing.

School Construction will be a topic of several sessions at the MACo Winter Conference.

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

WSSC Revising Rates, Counties Provided Opportunity To Comment

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) is recommending a new rate structure, which is intended to make water bills more predictable and “less discriminatory for larger households,” according to The Washington Post:

With no discussion, the board for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) forwarded to officials in Montgomery and Prince Georges counties three staff recommendations for a new pricing system. County officials are expected to provide feedback this spring before the board approves a new system in June.

Each proposal results in higher water bills for smaller households and lower bills for larger households. The revised structure comes after the Maryland Public Service Commission ordered WSSC last March to revise its rate structure because the 25-year-old existing structure was “unduly discriminatory” and “unreasonable” because it could result in larger households paying more per gallon.

The new rate structure would take effect July 2019.

Harford Council Considers Ambulance Fee Bill

The Harford County Council is considering a bill introduced by County Executive Glassman to set fees on county-owned ambulance services equal to those under Medicare.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

The legislation also provides for such charges to increase or decrease in step with applicable Medicare charges fluctuations. If there is no comparable Medicare charge for the service provided, the county’s director of emergency services and treasurer would set the fee.

If the patient transported is not covered by insurance – or the insurance does not cover the service provided, the legislation gives the emergency services director and treasurer authority to waive the charge.

The bill also provides waiver authority to the director of emergency services and treasurer for cases in which the patient or the service being provided is not covered by insurance.

The article notes that the bill is one part of a plan by the County Executive’s office to move towards a county paid and county controlled ambulance system.

For more information read the full article in The Baltimore Sun.

Related coverage from Conduit Street:

Harford Launches New Emergency Medical Standards Advisory Board

DLS: State Workforce Understaffed

Department of Legislative Services (DLS) long-time analyst David Juppe had previously opined that State budget cuts to personnel have adversely impacted State hiring and retention. Now, he’s studying the issue and so far, it appears he’s right.

At the Spending Affordability Committee briefing on Tuesday, Juppe testified that the executive branch has abolished nearly 8,000 positions since 2002, leaving it with less than 50,000. Additionally, the State is understaffed by 1,300 positions, in addition to about 1,200 unfilled vacant positions.

From Fox 45:

[Juppe] says the bulk of the shortages are in the corrections department and the Department of Juvenile Services, as well as the health department. There also are shortages in the Maryland Department of the Environment, state police and the public defender’s office.

He hopes to have a study complete at the end of the year in time for the legislative session.

The analysis provided on Tuesday is available here.