(10/2016) I recently delivered the State of the County address. Our county is strong, life is good, and great things are being accomplished. Frederick County is without a doubt one of the best places to live, work and raise a family.
Our economy is booming with the second-fastest business growth in Maryland. Last year we added almost 3,200 new jobs over nine industry sectors. There is a job for everyone. We’ve put business incentives in place to get people working. Our unemployment rate of 4% is one of the lowest in the state.
Frederick’s 2016 economic outlook was over $11 billion! Our economy is growing faster than the region and the national average. Our median household income now exceeds $80,000. New businesses are locating here and existing ones are expanding, which means more people can live and work in Frederick County.
Charter government delivers
It is clear that charter government delivers. It delivers good government that protects taxpayers. Just look at what we’ve accomplished in the past year.
One of the biggest accomplishments has been earning AAA bond ratings from all three New York City rating agencies. Frederick is one of fewer than 50 counties nationally with the highest possible ratings from all three agencies. The ratings show that we have sound fiscal management, a conservative and balanced fiscal budget, and we’ve been able to do that without tax
A second great accomplishment this year has been to retain Citizens and Montevue. This helps us to restore our promise to our seniors and to ensure our longstanding legacy of taking care of our own. It also protected taxpayers from a financially bad deal that would have required taxpayers to pay millions of dollars to sell valued facilities.
Another proud legacy of Frederick County is its agriculture. We have preserved more than 52,000 acres of agricultural land, making us among the Top 10 counties in the country for preservation.
We are blessed that Frederick County Public Schools provides outstanding opportunities and delivers top educational outcomes for our students. Seven of our high schools made U.S. News and World Report’s Best List for 2016. All of our high schools rank in the top 10% of the National Challenge Index. Working together, we have been able to come up with creative, shared
solutions to keep our school construction on track. We are also making progress to ensure that we have competitive teacher salaries.
We also have a fantastic community college. Frederick Community College earned its accreditation this year – a true achievement!
Fundamental to local government is making sure that we have a safe community. We’ve made progress in this area, too, largely through the budget. I thank the County Council members who have been great partners in supporting the budget. We’ve added deputies and firefighters, and made sure that deputies and correctional officers earn competitive pay.
A recent $6.3 million federal grant will allow us to add 41 firefighter/medics. We will be able to tactically staff our stations and deliver better service to our citizens in need.
Our 911 Communications System is a leader in the State, with Next Generation technology. Frederick County remains one of the few counties on the East Coast with text-to-911 capability.
State investments for road improvements have been the highest in years. Construction will begin soon for a new interchange at I-270 and MD 85. We also have funding to design and engineer a widening of U.S. 15 from Md. 26 to I-70. These significant state investments are more examples of charter government delivering.
In the past year, we’ve gone green with five all-electric buses in our TransIT fleet. We are the first in the region to add all-electric buses, and they were purchased through grants at no cost to the county. We’ve also added apps to buy fares and to locate your bus.
Operating hours for three regional libraries are expanding, including at Thurmont Library, so that community rooms and collections are available until 9 p.m. on weeknights. Our libraries are heavily used, with approximately 82,000 people visiting a library every month.
We’re also moving forward with parks. There’s a great demand for athletic fields and ball fields for youth sports, so we are expanding fields and other offerings at Utica Park, and a new park near Brunswick.
Leading the way
Frederick County is leading the way! The accolades keep piling up. We won a sustainability award for our Green Homes Challenge. We have been named one of the best digital counties in the nation. The Child Advocacy Center became accredited. Frederick County has achieved a recycling rate of over 50%, making us one of the highest in Maryland. Our school system is launching a
cutting edge program called Linking Youth to New Experiences at Frederick High School, which re-imagines how education is provided. It offers more individualized programs, business mentoring and internships, and an extended schedule so students can work and go to school.
All across the State, people are saying "We want to be like Frederick!"