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From the Desk of
County Executive Jan Gardner

(8/1) Restoring trust in county government has been one of my top priorities as County Executive. Citizens deserve a government they can trust and the assurance that elected leaders are making decisions in the best interest of the citizens they serve. I am deeply honored that the citizens of Frederick County have placed their trust in me and I want to honor that trust in everything I do and in every decision I make.

Thus, I work each and every day to protect county taxpayers, balance legitimate competing needs and interests, and to advance the public good. This is my goal with every decision, budget, policy, and initiative.

One of the most important ways I can protect taxpayers is to ensure your money is spent wisely and responsibly. I know people work hard for their money and that they want excellent schools, well-maintained roads, a safe community, and quality services for their tax dollars. Expectations are high and Frederick County Government delivers. I want to share a few steps I have taken to protect taxpayers:

• Earned three AAA bond ratings which assures the public that the county is well managed and following conservative and fiscally responsible budget and finance policies. The accomplishment has allowed the county to save millions of dollars through low interest rates and to build county infrastructure at an extremely low cost to taxpayers. We recently saved over $5 million in our June bond sale. This provides enough money to build an additional fire station, improve a road, or build a branch library or to simply avoid taking on more debt.

• Eliminating privatization that costs taxpayers more. I have not renewed work with outside contractors that are costing taxpayers more and have brought work "in-house" to save taxpayers millions of dollars. County employees do an outstanding job of saving taxpayer dollars by completing routine maintenance, bridge and culvert work, and vehicle maintenance. We are doing more with less by ending costly privatization.

• School construction costs have increased dramatically over the past two years. To address this big ticket item, I have appointed a team of experts and tasked them to identify ways to reduce the cost of school construction by 8% to 10%. This team has not yet completed its work but is evaluating some creative ideas to save money including reducing the square footage and volume of new schools without impacting educational programs and identifying more effective and low cost ways to meet environmental and energy saving standards.

• The retention of Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and the Montevue Home will save taxpayers millions of dollars as compared to the "bad deal" to sell these facilities and will retain an important service for the residents of the county. It would have cost taxpayers an extra $15.4 million simply to close on the sale of these buildings per the "deal" put together by the prior administration in 2013 primarily because they agreed to sell the facilities far below their value and to subsidize the operations into the future.

Protecting taxpayers also means watching over county assets and county resources. A good example is the recent debate over allowing "out of county" trash at the landfill. The county landfill has limited space and we pay to send 95 percent of our garbage elsewhere for disposal – generally to a landfill in Pennsylvania. Every home and business in the county pays a system benefit charge on their property tax bill to support the landfill operations. When someone brings trash from outside of Frederick County – from a business that does not pay the system benefit charge – and dumps their garbage here, that cost is passed on to local taxpayers. That’s why you are asked to show your driver’s license when you come to the landfill, and it’s why every commercial trash hauler is routinely asked where their load comes from. If we open the county landfill to "out of county" trash, it will not only potentially cost taxpayers more, it will bring increased truck traffic and negative impacts to the residents who live around our landfill. These rules have been in place for over 30 years and were put in place to protect taxpayers. Violating these rules shifts a cost to taxpayers.

A fundamental responsibility of county government is to ensure the safety of its citizens. This most frequently brings to mind, public safety – law enforcement and fire and EMS. Certainly, these public safety services are important and I am proud to support our men and women in law enforcement and fire and rescue with competitive salaries, training, and equipment to do their jobs. We are very fortunate to live in a safe community.

But, protecting public health, welfare, and safety goes beyond these public safety first responders. The county government is tasked to ensure public health and welfare through the enforcement of a variety of regulations that were put in place to make sure citizens are safe. Many of these regulations are state and federal law that the local governments are responsible to enforce. For example, building codes are in place so you can walk onto a deck without fear of it collapsing, or plug in an appliance without starting a fire. Health regulations prevent sickness from food that is not prepared properly or from unsanitary conditions. By requiring everyone to follow the same standards, citizens are kept safe and businesses operate on a level playing field. These standards also protect County taxpayers from lawsuits. Defending a lawsuit costs money, even for the party that wins. Any responsible elected official would want the County to avoid lawsuits altogether.

I take my responsibility as the county’s first County Executive very seriously and work hard to protect taxpayers each and every day. My administration’s approach is to ensure fairness, to follow conservative and sound fiscal policies, and to protect the county’s investment in our roads, buildings and facilities.

If you have ideas, questions, or concerns, please feel free to contact me at or at 301-600-3190.

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