|A Message From The President
The 2011 General Assembly session is drawing to a close, and while there are several unresolved legislative issues that could affect Maryland counties, a theme has emerged. MACo has again proven itself to be a valuable organization for our collective interests, which were clearly heard in the halls of Annapolis over the past several months.
Through the thoughtful deliberative process of MACo's legislative committee and the diligent work of MACo staff, Maryland county governments had a prominent seat at the table for the most important debates of the year. We weighed in on state pension-system reform, limits on developments using septic systems, money for road and highway maintenance and state education funding - with positive results.
We are grateful to fiscal leaders in the House of Delegates and Senate who included $13 million in additional funding in the state budget to boost our Highway User Revenue allotment. We have long said that deferral of road maintenance was reaching a critical stage, and lawmakers listened and acted.
In many areas, the budget about to be finalized by House and Senate negotiators makes improvements for counties over the initial spending plan submitted by Gov. Martin O'Malley.
I had the chance to thank the governor for his work on behalf of counties when he spoke to our final legislative committee meeting of the year recently. The governor told us that soon after the session ends, he would examine a long-term solution to Maryland's transportation needs, and sign an executive order creating a task force to examine the septic issue.
That means our work, of course, won't end on sine die. There are important issues to study in the months ahead.
But there are still several days left in the 2011 session. MACo staff and officers are continuing to work on ambulance service charges, property tax billing schedules, building permit expiration and unemployment insurance issues. There are important issues where counties have a stake. We will keep you apprised on how things proceed.
On the budget front, MACo staff and members will continue to press our case on the shifting of parole commission costs and assessment office responsibilities.
Thank you to all who participated during the legislative session, by sharing your views and participating in our Buddy Alert outreach initiative. By working together, we will continue to insure the strength and prosperity of Maryland's counties.
As a final note, I'm excited about hosting MACo's spring meeting in Ellicott City, our next big event. I look forward to seeing you in the weeks and months ahead.