By now, each of us have completed, or are just wrapping up, the hard work of balancing our counties' budgets for the fiscal year that begins in a few weeks. The choices are never easy, and whether we approach decisions from the executive side or the legislative side, we must weigh the demands of our constituents with the reality that property tax revenues continue to shrink because of the still-weak real-estate market.
Still, congratulations are in order to those of you who have completed work on your spending plans. I know that you hope, as I do, that the worst days of the downturn are well behind us.
With local budget season nearly over, attention is turning to the statewide issues we knew we would be tackling this year. Maryland Association of Counties staff is diligently tracking a variety of topics, from the proposed stormwater and septic tank regulations likely to emerge from a task force that will make recommendations to the governor, to the nuts and bolts of PlanMaryland, the draft policy document that was released by the Maryland Department of Planning in the spring, and which awaits input from our planning officials who are seeking a productive partnership with state officials.
Gov. Martin O'Malley recently visited Howard County for a roundtable discussion on transportation funding needs, an issue of particular concern to me. The governor wants information on a variety of options for meeting the state's transportation objectives, and we all are waiting to see if this is one of the topics that will be addressed during a proposed October special session of the Maryland General Assembly, which will be convened primarily to address congressional redistricting.
Transportation will be one of the main topics of the MACo Board of Directors' retreat later this month in Howard County. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to see many county friends and colleagues again, and to show them the best that my county has to offer.
I will reiterate that I, my fellow board members and the MACo staff are a resource to all in Maryland county government. Please call any time with questions or concerns, or just to tell me what's on your mind. I continue to believe that in the spirit of cooperation, we in Maryland's counties will move our state forward.
Enjoy the warm weather, and go Orioles!
Howard County Executive Ken Ulman