Corvias at #MACoCon for the Governor’s Cabinet Reception!

The Maryland Association of Counties would like to thank Corvias for their sponsorship of the Governor’s Cabinet Reception. MACo will host the Governor’s Cabinet Reception on August 17, 2018, followed by the Crab Feast.

download (1).pngCorvias [kore-vee-us] is rooted in the Latin phrase “by way of the heart.” It represents the commitment we make to our partners. The passion we bring to making a real difference in the world. And serves as our daily reminder to lead with our hearts, speak from our conscience, and improve local communities — and society at large — through every one of our partnerships. We take our work personally because, just like our partners, we’re engaged citizens and community members with a vision for a better tomorrow. And a plan to make our vision a reality.

Thank you, Corvias, for supporting the Maryland Association of Counties!

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

You Get a Tote Bag, You Get a Tote Bag, You All Get a Tote Bag

MACo would like to recognize the sponsor of this year’s conference tote bags, The NorthEast Maglev!

MACo’s 2018 Summer Conference will be held Aug. 15-18 at the Roland Powell Convention Center, in Ocean City, MD.

tnem.pngTNEM is an American company committed to bringing the revolutionary SCMAGLEV to the Northeast Corridor, the most congested transportation region in the country.

Thank you, The NorthEast Maglev, a Bronze Corporate Partner, for your support of Maryland Counties!

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

It Wouldn’t Be a Crab Feast Without the Feast?!

The Maryland Association of Counties would like to thank Miles & Stockbridge for sponsoring the Main Buffet at the Crab Feast!

MACo’s 2018 Summer Conference will be held Aug. 15-18 at the Roland Powell Convention Center, in Ocean City, MD.

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Miles & Stockbridge is a leading law firm with 250 lawyers and seven offices across Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. The firm’s lawyers help global, national, local and emerging business clients preserve and create value by helping them solve their most challenging problems.

Thank you, Miles & Stockbridge, for your support of Maryland Counties!

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Don’t Let a Dead Battery Ruin #MACoCon

The Maryland Association of Counties would like to thank SLAIT Consulting and Nutanix for sponsoring the Cell Phone Charging Station.

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SLAIT Consulting is an information technology company that specializes in cyber-security and data center solutions. SLAIT holds top partner status and certifications with leading technology organizations which enables us to help businesses, government and educational institutions develop comprehensive plans to build and maintain their IT infrastructure. SLAIT will work with you to develop strategies around IT business transformation, conduct IT Risk Analysis and Mitigation, and develop out-of-the-box thinking around your IT architecture, design, and implementation. Visit slaitconsulting.com to learn more.

NutanixNutanix enables IT teams to build and operate powerful multi-cloud architectures. Our Enterprise Cloud OS software melds private, public and distributed cloud operating environments and provides a single point of control to manage IT infrastructure and applications at any scale.

Thank you, SLAIT Consulting and Nutanix, for your support of Maryland Counties!

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Meetings, Meetings, Meetings #MACoCom

MACo hosts a series of meetings at the annual summer conference for members belonging to affiliates and special groups. We would like to recognize the 2018 sponsors of those meetings.

MACo’s 2018 Summer Conference will be held Aug. 15-18 at the Roland Powell Convention Center, in Ocean City, MD.

Davenport & Company – Budget & Finance Meeting
MidAtlantic Farm Credit – Large and Rural County Coalition Breakfasts
U.S. Communities – Emergency Managers, Human Resources, Information Technology, and Procurement Meetings
Wetlands Studies and Solutions – County Engineers Meeting
Zelenkofske Axelrod – Budget & Finance Meeting

Davenport & Company

Davenport

Headquartered in Richmond, Virginia and founded in 1863, Davenport & Company LLC is an independent financial advisory firm specializing in the area of investments, research, asset management, investment banking, and advisory services. Member: NYSE FINRA SIPC. Address: 8600 La Salle Road, Suite 324, Towson, MD 21286

MidAtlantic Farm Credit

MidAtlantic Farm Credit

The Farm Credit System was founded in 1916 to provide America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities with access to reliable and consistent credit. Today, there are approximately 65 independently operated Farm Credit organizations across the country and Puerto Rico – each providing financial assistance to their local communities.

U.S. Communities

US CommU.S. Communities is the leading national government purchasing cooperative that reduces the cost of goods and services by aggregating the purchasing power of public agencies nationwide. U.S. Communities provides participants with access to a broad line of competitively solicited contracts with national suppliers that have committed to providing their lowest overall public agency pricing. Each month more than 500 new public agencies register to participate. This continuing rapid growth is fueled by the program’s proven track record of providing public agencies unparalleled value and the best government pricing available.

Wetlands Studies and Solutions

WetlandsWetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. (WSSI), a Davey Tree Company, is one of the leading natural and cultural resource consulting firms in the Mid‐Atlantic, and the largest in our local niche. Our staff assists both public and private sector clients with Clean Water Act permitting and develops innovative solutions to water quality issues. We have worked on over 7,900 projects in the region, encompassing more than 298,000 acres.
These projects include stream restoration for TMDL credit and mitigation, federal and state Clean Water Act permitting, wetland delineations, natural resource inventories, forest stand delineations, critical area studies, RTE species studies, and tree preservation plans. Our ongoing partnerships with counties and cities have fine‐tuned our understanding of the issues facing local jurisdictions – and the need to strike a balance between tight budgets, necessary projects and upgrades, and permit compliance requirements.

Zelenkofske Axelrod

ZA

Zelenkofske Axelrod LLC (ZA) is a Pennsylvania based regional CPA firm employing over 45 professionals, with offices in Harrisburg, Greensburg, Pittsburgh, and Greater Philadelphia; Dover, Delaware, and expanding into Maryland, that specializes in providing auditing, accounting and consulting services to governmental entities. ZA’s growth over the years has been through specialization in the governmental industry. They are leaders in providing accounting, auditing, and consulting services to governmental entities of all types – that’s why so many of these entities, large and small, engage in their services. Their clients include counties, component units of the state, townships, boroughs, authorities, cities, and school districts. Not all CPA firms specialize in the complexity of accounting and auditing standards which govern these entities. They do! Their partners and directors have worked in the Big 4 accounting firms and have brought their experience to Zelenkofske Axelrod LLC to grow their governmental practice to where it is today. The quality of their work is second to non, particularly in the Government Industry. This fact is evident in many ways, but independently supported through their most recent Peer Review which included review of specific governmental engagements, resulting in an unqualified opinion with no Letter of Comment.

Thank you for your support of Maryland Counties!

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Median Home Values Surge Throughout Maryland

Median home values are on the rise – and, in fact, are at their highest levels in 10 years, according to The Daily Record’s real estate blog, Ground Up.

For counties, which depend on property taxes more than any other revenue stream, this is a big deal.

When looking at median sales price increases this July as compared to July 2017, Prince George’s County’s increased by 1.1 percent, the Baltimore metro area’s increased by 2.6 percent, Montgomery’s increased by 6 percent, and Harford County’s increased the most, by 8.1 percent.

Howard’s was the only that fell, by 2.3 percent. Howard still maintains the highest home money-2724241__340values in the Baltimore metro area, however.

Anne Arundel saw the greatest surge in sales, which increased by 13.4 percent over the prior year.

The increases in sales activity and purchases prices is potentially attributable to tighter supply and uncertainty as to if and when interest rates will increase.

Curious how counties project property tax revenue increases? Join expert finance officers at the MACo Summer Conference session, Navigating Murky Waters: Predicting Unpredictable Revenue Streams.

MACo’s 2018 Summer Conference will be held this week, Aug. 15-18 at the Roland Powell Convention Center, in Ocean City, MD. This year’s conference is projected to have its highest attendance, ever!

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Maryland Bests Goal, Bucks Trend with Pensions Performance

The State Pension System’s fiscal year 2018 returns were higher than the assumed rate of return, and its overall funding ratio continues to improve. 

The Maryland State Pension System has beat its goal for investment returns, earning 8.06% against a 7.50% target, according to a press release from the State Pension System. The System also continues to shrink its unfunded liability, counter to a national trend in the opposite direction.

The Maryland Reporter puts this year’s investment returns in context of the System’s historical gains and the size of its remaining funding gap, stating that in the long-term, Maryland still falls below its investment target and that the System is underfunded by $19 billion.

According to the Maryland State Retirement Agency, the System has earned an average of 8.07% since 1986. And, while the System is not yet fully-funded, positive returns like this year’s help reduce its unfunded liability.

Through a combination of investment performance improvements, and benefit reforms made over several years, the System’s health is improving. From the State Pension System Press Release:

“Investment returns this past year are consistent with the long term expectations for our diversified asset allocation and the Board is pleased that, as a result of its oversight and the diligent work of the System’s Investment Division, this asset growth helps to ensure the sustainability of our Plan.” – State Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, Chair of the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System Board of Trustees.

About half of Maryland counties participate in the State pension system to provide pensions to county government employees. As members of the System, those counties have a particular interest in the System’s investment returns.

In Maryland, the General Assembly has also acted to reduce the Pension System’s unfunded liability through benefit reforms. Reforms enacted by the Legislature in 2011 continue to show positive results:

  • Contribution rates are lower for the coming fiscal year (17.42%) than had been projected (18.70%) in the June 30, 2010 valuation, and the Maryland Pension System’s funded ratio (71.8%) is higher than had been projected (64.5%) at that time
  • The System is on track to be:
    • 80% funded by 2026, and
    • 100% funded by 2039

This positive progress is the inverse of an identified national trend in pensions, as the funding ratios of many public pensions have recently declined. Maryland has made progress surmounting the hurdles experienced by public pensions across the country, including a growing number of retirees, and reduced anticipated investment returns. The increase in Maryland’s Pension funding level is largely due to benefit reforms enacted by the General Assembly, including more restrictive criteria for cost-of-living increases.

The ability of county governments and many municipalities to participate in the State Pension System allows them to provide a certain level of benefit to their employees that might not be otherwise sustainable. MACo will continue to track the System’s progress toward its goal of 100% funded status on behalf of county stakeholders.

The Chair of the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System Board of Trustees, Treasurer Nancy Kopp, will be speaking at this year’s MACo Conference. The Treasurer will be a special guest at the Women of MACo Lunch, on Friday, August 17, 2018.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

 

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Dr. Kirwan Discusses His Commission’s Work on WYPR

Dr. William “Brit” Kirwan, Chair of the [Kirwan] Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, yesterday joined WYPR’s On the Record to discuss the future of Maryland’s public education system.

The Commission is charged with reviewing and assessing current education financing formulas and accountability measures. The Commission was originally set to complete its work in time for the 2018 session of the General Assembly, but last October asked for an extension when it became clear the deadline was not realistic. Prior to breaking for the 2018 legislative session, the Commission released a preliminary report detailing its preliminary recommendations.

When asked about the delay, Dr. Kirwan explained that the initial timeline was simply impractical. “I don’t think anybody fully appreciates the magnitude of this challenge. We are being asked to invent and develop a funding formula for an entirely new system of education, that will be at the level of the best-performing systems in the world. We’re supposed to do that in six months? Give me a break!”

Dr. Kirwan expects the Commission to release its final recommendations in time for the 2019 session of the Maryland General Assembly.

In the meantime, the Commission’s four working groups will continue working to develop a consensus on the design, implementation plan, and cost for each of the preliminary recommendations. Once the working groups have completed their work, they will present their recommendations and cost estimates to the full Commission. The chair will work with staff and consultants to develop a draft cost estimate based on the recommendations of the working groups (as considered by the full Commission) for the full Commission’s consideration.

Dr. Kirwan cautioned that simply spending more money on Maryland’s public education system is unlikely to improve student outcomes. “It’s not just how much you spend, it’s what you spend it on. That is part and parcel to the recommendations we’re making,” Kirwan said.

Greater spending must come with greater accountability, according to Chair Kirwan. “There is inadequate accountability, and that’s what we’re trying to address,” he said.

Chair Kirwan said he looks forward to working with Governor Larry Hogan and the Maryland General Assembly on legislation to implement the Commission’s recommendations. “I give Governor Hogan and the Legislature a lot of credit for appointing this commission because they recognize that Maryland’s future and the future well-being of our citizens depend upon a high-quality education, that’s the future of our economy.”

The 2016 Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education was created by legislation introduced in the General Assembly. The Commission membership parallels that of the earlier Thornton Commission.

MACo advocates for adequate, fair, and reasonable funding for all of Maryland’s students, and urges State policymakers to sustain a robust level of public education and school construction funding.

Useful Links

WYPR Coverage

Previous Conduit Street Coverage

MACo’s Summer Conference will include a session on education funding and accountability, and how to best ensure that Maryland students receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education. The session, “Angling for Educational Excellence: Kirwan 2.0,” is scheduled for 10:15 am – 11:15 am on Saturday, August 18, 2018.

The 2018 MACo Summer Conference will be held August 15-18 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland. This year’s theme is “Water, Water Everywhere.”

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Be Proactive: Plan for the Unpredictable

MACo’s Summer Conference is quickly approaching (Aug. 15-18). The conference is focusing on water issues with its “Water, Water Everywhere” theme, but strives to offer “something for everyone.”

Back by popular demand is the Active Shooter Response Training presented by Deputy First Class Thomas Wehrle of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Division. Join this session on Saturday, August 18, from 8:30 am – 10 am at the Ocean City Convention Center to learn about active shooter situations – how they normally unfold and what you can do keep yourself safe.

As a recent addition to the session, conference sponsor Multivista will make a 2-minute presentation:

Be Proactive:  How Interactive Visual Technologies Can Help Us Plan for the Unpredictable in Our Public Areas

Jason Donahoe, Senior Regional Partner with Multivista, will demonstrate how the latest Reality Capture technologies are being used for critical safety preparedness initiatives. Come see how the mapping of 2D imagery combined with 3D immersive visual technology provides an interactive resource that supports our public safety planning teams.

Don’t miss this session! Register today.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Conduit Street Podcast: Maryland’s Opioid Crisis: Where Do We Go from Here?

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Michael Sanderson and Kevin Kinnally are joined by MACo’s Legislative Director, Natasha Mehu, to discuss Maryland’s opioid crisis. Listen in to learn how the heroin and opioid epidemic was born, innovative state and local efforts to battle heroin and opioid misuse and abuse, and the resources necessary to stem the crisis in Maryland.

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.

Do you or someone you know need help with heroin/opioid addiction? SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: GOCCP Awards Grants to Help Counties Track Opioid Activity

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Queen Anne’s, Talbot Go Purple to Fight Opioid Abuse

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Frederick to Sue Opioid Manufacturers, Distributors

Anne Arundel County Safe Stations

The Conduit Street Podcast is coming to Summer Conference! Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson will be joined by Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger for a live recording of the podcast. The session, “Conduit Street Podcast LIVE!” is scheduled for Friday, August 17, from 2:15 pm – 3:15 pm.

The 2018 MACo Summer Conference will be held August 15-18 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland. This year’s theme is “Water, Water Everywhere.”

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: