Carroll Earns Three AAA Bond Ratings

Carroll County recently received the highly coveted AAA bond rating from all three of the major credit rating agencies. Moody’s granted the county the highest possible rating, following the lead of FitchRatings and Standard & Poor’s (S&P). The rating upgrade translates into a lower interest rate and reduced fees, saving valuable taxpayer dollars.

According to a press release:

The county will immediately feel the improved rating as it readies to finance a new $25M bond sale this week.

The Moody’s ratings rationale “is based on the ongoing expansion of the county’s large tax base and growing revenue streams, resulting in a consistently healthy and stable financial position. The Aaa rating also incorporates the county’s beneficial location near the Baltimore-Washington metro area, above-average resident wealth levels, comprehensive fiscal polies and planning and manageable debt and pension burdens.”

In early October, County Commissioners Dennis Frazier and Stephen Wantz, County Administrator Roberta Windham, Comptroller Robert Burk and Economic Development Director Jack Lyburn travelled to New York City’s financial district to present the county’s case for top ratings to the three rating agencies.

Commissioner Frazier, District 3, said, “This is very exciting as for the first time in history, Carroll County receives the highest rating across the board. This is a win for the county as the ratings will lower our cost of borrowing in the future. This is a great compliment to the county and the reward for its healthy financial position and consistent, conservative fiscal management.”

Read the full press release for more information.

Baltimore City Council Advances “Complete Streets” Legislation

The Baltimore City Council on Monday gave preliminary approval to “complete streets” legislation aimed at improving safety and accessibility on roadways for pedestrians and cyclists.

According to The Baltimore Sun:

In a city where one in three households lacks access to a car, the legislation states that the Baltimore City Department of Transportation must “to the greatest extent possible, promote walking, biking, and public transit” and “ensure equity by actively pursuing the elimination of health, economic, and access disparities.”

The legislation would create a “Complete Streets Coordinating Council” to oversee the bill’s mandates. It also requires the city to track whether officials are adequately addressing the transportation needs of Baltimoreans of all races and income levels.

The bill still needs final approval before being sent to the desk of Mayor Catherine Pugh.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, The General Assembly earlier this year approved legislation to create a competitive grant program making Transportation Trust Fund dollars available to local governments for the planning and design of Complete Streets projects.

Local governments own and maintain 83 percent of the roads in the State of Maryland, making them the best catalyst for incorporating Complete Streets principles into Maryland’s transportation network. However, with the decimation of highway user revenues resulting in over $3 billion diverted from local roads funding, counties struggle to accomplish meaningful preventive maintenance on their roads, much less dedicate resources to redesigning streets with all users in mind.

Given this reality, it will take a significant dedication of funding to local roads to transform our state’s transportation network into one which prioritizes pedestrians, cyclists, and transit passengers as highly as it prioritizes cars. MACo supported the bill because it provides a step in the right direction toward that end.

Useful Links

Read the full article from The Baltimore Sun

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Complete Streets Funding Brings Roads Up to Speed

Virus Shuts Down Anne Arundel County Public Library Computers

Anne Arundel County Public Library (AACPL) officials recently announced that its public computers were exposed to the Emotet virus, an especially deleterious program that spreads via infected email attachments. As a result, some 600 computers are expected to be offline for at least two weeks as officials work to eradicate the virus and scrub the network.

According to a press release:

On October 11, officials discovered that a database of customers who used library computers or the business services kiosk for copying, faxing printing was exposed to the virus. This database, dating back to November 2015, contains library card numbers, customer names and birthdates. No other information, including social security or credit card number, is stored on library servers or is at risk for exposure. However, customers should remain vigilant about their personal information and change any account passwords if they used AACPL computers or the library’s copying, faxing or printing business services kiosk.

“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this attack may have caused our customers,” said AACPL CEO Hampton “Skip” Auld. “Along with many organizations, we’ve discovered vulnerabilities through this breach and are taking comprehensive steps to prevent any future incidents. The library is committed to protecting customers against the misuse of their personal information and we take security issues very seriously.”

If you believe you’ve been affected by this breach, visit the consumer page of the library’s website at www.aacpl.net/consumer for more information.

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.”

DATES:

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

ELIGIBILITY
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
CATEGORIES
  • 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
APPLYING
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

  APPLY NOW

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

Worcester Names New Director of Emergency Services

Worcester County recently announced that Billy Birch, a former NASA official, will replace Fred Webster, who is retiring in December, as Director of Emergency Services.

According to Delmarva Now:

Birch joined the the county’s Emergency Services team on Sept. 24, and brings 25 years of experience in law enforcement, emergency management and disaster response to Worcester County Government.

“Emergencies do not fall into one neat package, and do not happen when we would like to plan them to occur,” Birch said. “My goal is to continue to strengthen our Worcester County Emergency Services Department by building even stronger relationships with all of our county, state, and federal first responder team partners.

“These relationships are vital to our county’s success and need to be built prior to a large-scale event.”

Fred Webster, Secretary of the MACo Emergency Manager’s affiliate, announced his retirement earlier this year. He has served as the Director of Emergency Services in Worcester County since 2013.

Read the full article for more information.

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 Joseph.VanEaton@bbklaw.com or Gerard.Lederer@bbklaw.com.

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.

A Better Maryland is Visiting a Community Near You

The Maryland Department of Planning is conducting its second round of community outreach for A Better Maryland.

We previously visited your community and we are returning to continue the dialogue. Your suggestions were incredibly informed and detailed and we would appreciate your assistance this fall.

-The Maryland Department of Planning

A Better Maryland

The department has teamed up with the Smart Growth Subcabinet, the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission, American Planning Association (APA) Maryland, and planning directors from across the state to compile and analyze previously provided input.

They have compiled feedback by county on their website.

The following are scheduled visits throughout the state:

Allegany County: 
Tuesday, October 9, 6:00 pm
Frostburg State University
Lyric Theatre
20 E. Main Street
Frostburg, MD 21532

Baltimore City: 
Thursday, November 8, 7:00 pm
Morgan State University
Center for Built Environment and Infrastructure Studies, Room 111
5299 Perring Parkway
Baltimore, MD 21214

Baltimore County: 
Thursday, October 25, 7:00 pm
New Town Elementary School Cafeteria
4924 New Town Boulevard
Owings Mills, MD 21117

Cecil County: 
Tuesday, October 23, 7:00 pm
Town Hall
515 Broad Street
Perryville, MD 21903

Charles County: 
Thursday, October 18, 7:00 pm
Waldorf Cultural Center
109 Post Office Road
Waldorf, MD 20602

Howard County: 
Thursday, November 15, 7:00 pm
Howard County Library
East Columbia Branch – Lucille Clifton Room AB
6600 Cradlerock Way
Columbia, MD 21045

Kent County: 
Wednesday, November 14, 6:30 pm
Chestertown Town Office – 2nd Floor
118 N Cross St
Chestertown, MD 21620

Montgomery County: 
Wednesday, October 24, 7:00 pm
Gaithersburg Community Center – Room B
810 S. Frederick Ave
Gaithersburg, MD 20877

Prince George’s County: 
Tuesday, October 16, 6:30 pm
Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission
6600 Kenilworth Ave
Riverdale, MD 20737

Somerset County: 
Wednesday, October 17, 6:30 pm
Somerset County Commissioner’s Office, Room 111
11916 Somerset Ave
Princess Anne, MD 21853

Talbot County: 
Thursday, November 1, 6:00 pm
Talbot County Community Center
Wye Oak Room
10228 Ocean Gateway
Easton, MD 21601

Washington County: 
Wednesday, October 10, 6:30 pm
Hagerstown Community College
Career Program Building, Rooms 212 and 214
11400 Robinwood Dr
Hagerstown, MD 21742

Meeting Topics:

  • Tackling the Economic Development Needs of the Next Century
  • Sustaining the Environment into the Future
  • Preserving Land
  • Improving Economic Growth and Development in Existing Communities
  • Meeting Renewable Energy Goals
  • Addressing Maryland’s Transportation, Infrastructure, and Technology Challenges and Opportunities
  • Creating Workforce/Affordable Housing
  • Building Capacity in Communities
  • Protecting Historic and Cultural Resources
  • Creating Quality Places
  • Coordinating State Agencies in Planning Processes
  • Adapting and Becoming Resilient to Climate Change
  • Respecting Regional Distinctions
  • Improving the Delivery of Programs and Services to Local Jurisdictions