New NACo Report on Community Engagement and Affordable Housing Development

The National Association of Counties (NACo) has released a report, Housing Connections: Promoting Affordability Through Community Engagement, to help counties improve community participation in shaping affordable housing programs.

The report features three case studies of counties implementing innovative strategies to engage their communities: Nassau County, N.Y; Orleans Parish/New Orleans, La. and Tillamook County, Ore., It also showcases several community engagement resources for affordable housing programs.

For more information:

Housing Connections: Promoting Affordability Through Community Engagement (NACo)


NACo to Host Webinar on Federal Opioid Package

NACo will hold a webinar on Friday, October 19 at 1:30pm ET to discuss the recent House and Senate-passed opioid legislative package — the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6) which awaits the president’s signature.

To help county officials understand this legislation, NACo has created a legislative analysis of the bills, outlining major provisions that could impact counties if enacted. Additional information about the opioid response package can be found on the NACo website.

The webinar will discuss how this legislation could support local efforts to combat addiction in our communities and to preview next steps for opioid legislation in Congress and the administration.

To register for the webinar, click here.

For more information:

House and Senate reach agreement on comprehensive opioid response package (NACo)

Opioid Legislative Analysis (NACo)

Nominate an Innovative County Program for NACo’s 2019 Achievement Awards

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Harford County wins Best in Arts, Culture and History at the 2018 NACo Achievement Awards

The National Association of Counties is accepting nominations for the 2019 Achievement Awards Program until the March 25, 2019, deadline.

The Achievement Awards Program is a non-competitive awards program that seeks to recognize innovative county government programs. One outstanding program from each category will be selected as the “Best of Category.”


Submission Deadline: March 25, 2019 at 11:59 pm

Notification of Achievement Awards: Week of April 22, 2019
NACo Annual Conference and Exposition: July 11 – 15, 2019, Clark County

Requirements – For each program nominated, general information, program summaries, and payments must be must be submitted to the National Association of Counties (NACo) via the online application portal and payments processed via P.O. must be postmarked by the application deadline.  For more information, please see the HOW TO APPLY section. Judging and review will not take place for unpaid or incomplete applications.

Eligible Nominees – Only county governments and state associations of counties are eligible to submit applications. There is no limit to the number of applications that can be submitted by a single entity. Regional partners are welcome to submit applications for a collective project; however, submitters must identify a single county or state association to submit the application on the group’s behalf.

Program Criteria – 

  1. Programs must accomplish one or more of the following:
    • Offer new services to county residents, fill gaps in the availability of services, fill gaps in or tap new revenue sources
    • Improve the administration of an existing county government program
    • Upgrade the working conditions or level of training for county employees. Enhance the level of citizen participation in, or the understanding of, government programs
    • Provide information that facilitates effective public policy making
    • Promote intergovernmental cooperation and coordination in addressing shared problems
  2. In the case of a program that is in response to a federal or state law, regulation or order, the program must go beyond mere compliance with the statute, regulation or order and must display a creative approach to meeting those requirements.
  3. The program must have measurable results (e.g. cost savings, enhanced employee productivity, improved constituent services, created better intergovernmental cooperation).
  4. The program must be innovative and not rely on techniques or procedures that are common practice in most counties of similar population or size.
  5. All aspects of the program must be consistent with acceptable governmental and financial management practices and must promote general governmental accountability.

Ineligible Programs – 

  • Programs designed to influence laws or regulations
  • Certification or accreditation programs
  • Events that ONLY take place one time, such as conducting a conference, the formation of a task force or the establishment of a committee
  • Programs that are adopted, whole or in part, from other public or private entities
  • Programs, whole or in part, that have received a previous NACo Achievement Award
  • Programs that the purchase of new technology or equipment, the construction of a building or the privatization/contracting out of a function
  • A newsletter or a publication
  • Arts, Culture and Historic PReservation
  • Children and Youth
  • Civic Education and Public Information
  • Community and Economic Development
  • County Administration and Management
  • County Resiliency: Infrastructure, Energy and Sustainability
  • Criminal Justice and Public Safety
  • Financial Management
  • Health
  • Human Services
  • Information Technology
  • Libraries
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Personnel Management, Employment and Training
  • Planning
  • Risk and Emergency Management
  • Transportation
  • Volunteers
Step 1: Prepare the Nomination Summary

  • Abstract of the Program
  • The Problem or Need for the Program
  • Description of the Program
  • Responding to Economic Downturn (optional)
  • The Cost of the Program
  • The Results/Success of the Program
  • Worthiness of Award
  • Supplemental Materials (optional)

Step 2: Sumit Your Information

  • Contact Information
  • Program Information
  • Terms and Conditions


Congress Approves Bipartisan Water Infrastructure Bill

Package includes new programs to strengthen Maryland’s stormwater, wastewater, and clean drinking water treatment capabilities.

Congress this week gave final approval to S. 3021, “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018”, which includes bipartisan elements of bills passed by several Congressional committees, including the Secure Required Funding for Water Infrastructure Now (SRF WIN) Act, the Drinking Water System Improvement Act, and other elements related to water infrastructure.

If signed by President Donald Trump, America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 would authorize more than $6 billion in spending over 10 years for projects nationwide. The bill allocates more than $4 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which provides money to states and utilities to improve drinking water infrastructure.

According to United States Senator Ben Cardin:

“The Senate’s passage of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act includes several measures that will mean major improvements for Maryland. It will help Maryland counties meet state storm water requirements, ensure that clean drinking water reaches Marylanders’ homes, protect our drinking water from the effects of climate change, and keep kids safer from lead contamination. It will allow the Army Corps to better maintain federal channels in Maryland, replenish our beaches, and restore and expand islands in the Chesapeake Bay that protect Maryland communities and improve habitats for fish and wildlife.

The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 99-1 on October 10, it was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives on September 13.

Useful Links

S.2800 – America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018

First NACo ExDir Bernie Hillenbrand Dies at 93

Starting in the 1950s, Bernie Hillenbrand helped build the beginnings of our modern-day National Association of Counties, as its first full-time Executive Director. He died this week at 93, following a brief illness.

One collaboration strategy for Hillenbrand, according to the NACo website, was to bring the professional staff to a “retreat” at his farm in Washington County, Maryland.

Hillenbrand was a 1951 alumnus of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, a top-ranked policy and public management program where he received his Master of Public Administration degree.

From the NACo County News:

Working out of an unused laundry facility and taking meetings in Washington, D.C.’s Mayflower Hotel, Bernard “Bernie” Hillenbrand took charge of NACo as its first full-time executive director in 1957.

Over the next 25 years, his vision and personality led the organization to change the way counties were represented on the federal level. After retiring in 1982, Hillenbrand retired to pursue the Methodist ministry. He died Oct. 5 at the age of 93 after a brief illness.

“In 1957, county governments had no presence in Washington, D.C.,” said Larry Naake, NACo’s former executive director who first met Hillenbrand as a California State Association of Counties intern in the 1960s. “By the ’70s, we were included in the discussions with governors and mayors, and that was all due to the way he built the organization.”

In fact, the New York Times called him, in 1981, “the lobbyist who put counties back on the map of politics.”

Stay tuned to the NACo website for any family arrangements or contact details.

Feds Reauthorize Funding for Hagerstown Regional Airport

Photo courtesy of Washington County Government

United States Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, along with Congressman John K. Delaney, last week announced that Hagerstown Regional Airport (HGR) received an extension of its Essential Air Services (EAS) funding through March 2019. This program allows for air service between rural areas to major hubs.

According to a press release:

As part of this program, HGR continues to offer daily flights using Southern Airways Express that travel from HGR to BWI and Pittsburgh International Airport. These connections help grow area businesses and support economic growth.

The EAS program, which is funded through the U.S. Department of Transportation, provided nearly $1.5 million to HGR in supporting commercial flights during fiscal year 2017.

“The airport is grateful to receive the extension of Essential Air Service funding through March 2019. This waiver ensures passengers commuting to BWI and Pittsburgh International, will continue receiving this valuable service ,” said HGR Airport Director Phil Ridenour. “We thank The Department of Transportation, Senators Cardin and Van Hollen along with Congressman Delaney for their continued support of this vital funding program.”

Read the full press release for more information.

Communities Seek to Appeal FCC Small Cell Order

Local governments across the nation are beginning to turn towards the courts to help settle concerns over the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) small cell order. 

On September 26, the FCC voted 3-1 to approve an order restricting local governments authority over the deployment of small cells within the local rights of way.

The order goes into effect 90 days after publication in the Federal Register. It is expected to be published on Monday, October 15, 2018 and have an effective date of January 14, 2019.

Gizmodo reports that cities, including Portland and Seattle, have taken steps to take legal action against the FCC. And City Lab reports on what exactly is at stake that has communities exploring their legal options.

Best Best & Krieger, LLP (BBK) law firm is representing a coalition of communities seeking to appeal the small cell orders:

We are setting fee caps based on population, with the lowest level being $5000. Cumulative billings will not exceed the amount of the capped commitment, unless a community has authorized an increase in their commitment level. Each community is expected to waive conflicts to the extent required to permit us to file as a group. The fee levels assume that any appeal of the orders will be consolidated into a single appeal in one U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and are not intended to cover costs associated with reconsideration or rehearing at the FCC, or for a petition to the Supreme Court.   We do expect that we will be filing for a stay and for an expedited briefing schedule.

Specifically the appeal focuses on two dockets (1) Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment (FCC WT Docket No. 17-79) and (2) Accelerating Wireline Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment (WC Docket No. 17-84). And two orders within those two dockets (1) Third Report and Order and Declaratory Ruling (issued August 3, 2018) (the “Moratorium Order”) and (2) the Declaratory Ruling and Third Report and Order (adopted on September 26, 2018) (the “Small Cell Order”).

Over 30 communities have already joined the coalition. If your jurisdiction is interested, please contact Joe Van Eaton or Gerry Lederer at 202-785-0600 or or

For more information:

FCC Approves Small Cell Order; Limits Local Authority (Conduit Street)

FCC Takes First of Two Actions: Could Cost Local Government Billions in Next Decade (BBK Law)

Lawsuit Threats Target FCC’s New 5G Rules That Kneecap Local Control (Gizmodo)

Why 5G Internet Is a Policy Minefield for Cities (City Lab)

Conduit Street Podcast: New Laws Take Effect, Internet Regs Spark Latest Clash Over States’ Rights, & More!

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Michael Sanderson and Kevin Kinnally discuss a handful of new Maryland laws, which took effect this week, explain why California’s new net neutrality law sparked the latest debate over states’ rights, and examine the impact of congressional action (or inaction) on state laws.

Listen here:

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

You can listen to previous episodes of the Conduit Street Podcast on our website.

Registered Voters, County-by-County

Data provided by the National Association of Counties shows registered voters in each county in the US, by affiliation, current as of August 1, 2018.

The National Association of Counties has released data on voter registrations from county governments across the country.

A clickable map (click 2018 Midterm Elections) displays total registrations, and a break-down of registered voters by party affiliations. For Maryland counties, the data was last updated on August 1, 2018, as of the writing of this post.

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A snapshot of voter registrations in Baltimore County from the National Association of Counties.

Maryland counties support local boards of election. MACo has facilitated communications between the State Board of Elections and county government IT departments on cybersecurity preparedness for the 2018 mid-term elections.

“More than 177 million people in 42 states and the District of Columbia are registered to vote as of September 2018.” — National Association of Counties

For more information, and the clickable map of voter registrations, see the National Association of Counties County Explorer (click 2018 Midterm Elections).

Home High-Cost Home

Based on national data, Maryland county residents have relatively high median mortgage owner costs, with 19 counties in the highest bracket.

The National Association of Counties (NACo) has released data compiling county-by-county statistics on 2016 housing costs. As NACo reports, 64% of all counties nationally have median monthly homeowner costs of more than $1000.

NACo’s data shows the median monthly owner costs for mortgaged housing for all counties in the nation. Housing costs are an important factor in county governance. While high housing costs may help support needed revenues for roads, schools, and other social services, they also may create challenges for maintaining inclusive communities and economic development opportunities.

Maryland appears all blue in NACo’s mapping tool – indicating that all Maryland counties are the the top three highest brackets for housing costs, with median monthly homeowner costs of more than $1,022.

20 of 23 Maryland counties and Baltimore City are dark blue in the map, because they are in the top 20% nationally, with median monthly homeowner costs between $1,303 and $3,294.

For more information, see the National Association of Counties’ County Explorer.

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The coloration of Maryland counties in this capture indicates a relatively high cost of mortgages compared to other counties in the nation.