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From the Desk of
County Commissioner Kirby Delauter

(9/11) In this article I will answer some questions and give some insight on what has transpired as I move towards my first year as an elected official. In July 2010, the Emmitsburg News-Journal, interviewed me for information as to what I wanted to do if elected to the Frederick County BoCC. I spoke then of job creation, controlling government spending, eliminating government waste, making the County more business friendly, lowering taxes and encouraging growth. Well, let me show you that what I spoke of then ( over a year ago ) as campaign promises, are now becoming realities. I will show how I have kept my word, and how this Board has implemented in just 10 months, most of the items we campaigned on during the election.

A few of the items mentioned above go hand in hand, such as job creation, making the County more business friendly, and encouraging growth. Once elected we started a list of action items to create a smoother permitting process and a refined process of doing business in this County. As of this date, there are 235 action items 73, or 31% have been completed with another 50% that are underway and being addressed. Some of those are things like, providing walk through permitting for non residential permits, easier permitting for signs, expedited commercial permitting process, working with Municipalities on the APFO testing, an APFO senior housing exemption, a property tax credit for seniors that meet certain income requirements, we eliminated onerous permits such as permits for installation of garbage disposals, and various items that aid the agriculture industry, the largest industry in Frederick County.

In the area of lowering taxes, we have entered the world of PPP, or public private partnerships. Through our efforts to give the taxpayer the same level of service at a lower cost, we entertained the idea of PPP. Through this process we have obtained some valuable information from outside sources as well as county employees. Some of the areas of concern are the current structure of county employee pay and benefits. The average county employee earns about $4000 ( about 10% ) more annually than their private sector counterparts. Once you add in benefits, that gap grows even more.

Once hired by the County, an employee from day one receives over 9.75 sick days, 9.75 vacation days and 13 paid holidays, 32.5 total paid days off the minute theyíre hired. They contribute 4% of their pay toward a "Defined Benefit" plan retirement and the taxpayer ( you and I ) contribute another 18% on top of their 4%. So a County employee earning $50,000 annually will receive $9000 per year toward retirement through the general fund from the taxpayer. Iím not aware of many private sector companies that could sustain this, and the truth be told, the County canít sustain it either. We have a budgeted structural deficit for FY 13 of $16.6 Million dollars largely in part due to salary and benefits as well as declining economy. Public Private Partnerships will be just another tool we can use to streamline our government while still providing essential services. As former New York Governor Mario Cuomo stated "itís not the governmentís obligation to provide services, but to see that they are provided".

Some of the areas in which we have achieved cost savings are the following, Reorganization of Departments $584,000 savings, position reductions $2.41M in savings, Head start turnover to Federal Government $2.3M in savings, reduction of grant - in aid to non - county agencies $305,000 in savings, reduced appropriation the CCRC $99,000 in savings, outsourcing ( privatized ) food service to Citizens / Montevue Home $ 750,000 savings, Recalculation of retiree health care $ 2.25M savings, reduction of liability insurance $200,000 savings and a reduction in workforce through attrition, layoffs, downgrades and not backfilling vacant positions $8.7M savings. This is approximately $17.6M in savings in our first 10 months in office without sacrificing core services, we have also balanced the 2012 budget without raising taxes or fees, no small feat, but one worth noting. While our Federal government has had its bond rating downgraded, a lot of these tough decisions we have made in Frederick County have resulted in our bond rating being upgraded.

We will be looking at County owned buildings that are not fully occupied to lease or sell. I am going to propose we take a comprehensive look at our entire County owned assets and that we keep only the necessities in order to provide core services. There are still many other ways to save taxpayer dollars. Did you know we currently carry earthquake and flood insurance on County buildings, we even have this coverage on the county owned building in Emmitsburg. A simple example of wasting taxpayer funds to eliminate risk rather than just managing risk. I own a building in Emmitsburg, I have neither earthquake nor flood insurance in my building coverage simply because neither is needed. If I wouldnít do it in my business, I certainly am not going to advocate we do it in the County with taxpayer money.

In closing I will just add that we do need to create private sector tax paying jobs in Frederick County if we are to maintain our service levels and do so with reduced and fair taxation. When I look at the labor force categories in Frederick County and I see that the government sector is larger than the construction, mining and manufacturing sectors combined, that is alarming to me. As Board President Blaine Young stated "we do not need more taxes, we need more taxpayers".

We need to create more private sector jobs to increase our tax base. This is the only way to move forward, you donít create prosperity with higher taxes and onerous bureaucratic regulations. Our business friendly approach will hopefully push new companies to locate to Frederick County and our 235 business friendly action items I mentioned at the beginning of this article will help keep existing businesses in Frederick County as well. It is our goal to reduce property taxes in this County before we leave office, I think we are well on our way to doing just that. This Board is committed to redefining the role of County government and leading the way in these difficult times.

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