As the weather turns chilly and my tenure as MACo president reaches its end, the time has come to reflect on the year that is closing while looking forward to the challenges that the coming months will bring.
Maryland's counties continue to be vigilant as government finances recover from historic weaknesses. Thanks to your leadership and difficult decisions, many counties are poised for growth as the job market improves, and, of course, if the real estate market allows.
But counties cannot allow the state and federal governments to shift their obligations and necessary budget reductions to us. Working against such shifts has been a hallmark of the past year. I'm pleased that MACo's strong positions on pension issues and highway transportation funding are respected in Annapolis.
As one of your representatives on the Blue Ribbon Commission on Maryland Transportation Funding, I worked to ensure that a tenet of any future transportation package is restoring the share of highway user revenues that counties have historically received. I'm proud that the recommendation was included in the commission's final report.
I'm similarly pleased that counties have not been asked to assume the significant costs of teacher pension obligations. It is a perennial battle, but our united voices are effective.
This past year illustrated the difficult balance between local autonomy and broader guiding principles in land-use planning. Debates over the preponderance of septic systems and the need for a statewide plan will continue, but I am glad that MACo, as always, has been an important player in the dialogue.
I'll most remember the time I got to spend in your county as I travelled the state to meet with elected and appointed leaders. From the sands of Ocean City to the panorama of Rocky Gap, from the bustle of the Washington region suburbs to the powerful tranquility of the Susquehanna River, Maryland truly is America in Miniature, and I am honored to serve as the president of an organization that represents all of Maryland.
Thank you for your commitment to our organization. Even though my days as president are dwindling, I will remain an active MACo participant for years to come.
Howard County Executive