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From the Desk of
County Executive Jan Gardner

(6/2017) The County recently approved a modest and responsible budget for Fiscal Year 2018 that delivers exceptional schools and safe communities while planning for our growing senior population. Thanks to our fiscal responsibility and our vibrant economy, we are able to provide top-notch education, safe communities and a high quality of life with no tax rate increase.

In fact, because of the County's stellar AAA bond rating earned just last year from all three rating agencies, our debt service has dropped, saving taxpayers $2 million a year. That’s real money! The budget is lean, sensible, balanced and fiscally responsible. It protects taxpayers' money.

We are investing in core services - both education and public safety. Funding provided for our schools will be used to implement the second year phase-in of the teachers’ and staff’s new competitive pay scale. And on the public safety front, to meet the growing volume of calls for service and to address the opioid and heroin crisis, positions have been added in the Sheriff’s Office, Corrections, Fire/EMS and at 9-1-1 Communications. In fact, a majority of the new positions in the budget are in public safety. I was also pleased to support all our volunteer fire and EMS companies with an increase in the funding matrix to support their ongoing operations. Keeping our communities safe is a fundamental responsibility of local government.

The budget also begins to implement our Seniors First initiative to plan and provide for the rapidly growing population of seniors who call Frederick County home. The budget includes in-home health aides to help more seniors to continue to live in their own homes, avoiding more costly nursing home care, an expansion of Meals on Wheels so no senior goes hungry, and a small amount of additional support for the Thurmont Senior Center. I am also pleased that the county is once again taking care of our own and keeping our promise to our seniors at Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living. The facilities are operating as a self-sustaining financial operation with no general fund support. We are once again accepting some indigent patients at Montevue.

Both Thurmont and Emmitsburg are allocated funds to help pay for sidewalk projects. Thurmont is improving access to the regional library by adding a sidewalk along Moser Road, while Emmitsburg is discussing a plan with Mount St. Mary’s University to install a sidewalk or path into town from Mount St. Mary’s University’s campus. In Woodsboro and Walkersville, residents will soon benefit from a new branch library that is under construction and will open to residents in January of 2018.

I want to thank Council President Bud Otis, Vice President M.C. Keegan-Ayer, and Council Members Jerry Donald and Jessica Fitzwater for supporting this lean, sensible budget and keeping Frederick County a great place to live, work and raise a family

Community Partnership Grants Awarded

Once again, I am proud to announce Community Partnership Grants restoring our longstanding and productive partnerships with our human service non-profit agencies. Together, we do more to help all our residents achieve success and we save money in the process.

The Community Partnership Grant program is cost-effective and saves taxpayers money. These grants leverage county resources, avoid duplication of effort and establish a strong functional collaboration to meet the human service needs in the community. Working together with the community, the county saves tax dollars through early intervention and prevention.

Some of the non-profits awarded grants for fiscal year 2018 include the Mission of Mercy, to provide health care to county seniors; the Seton Center, to offer dental care through its DePaul Dental Program; and the Thurmont Senior Center, to purchase a refrigerator/freezer and dishwasher.

Heroin/opioid awareness

At the end of April, we unveiled a billboard along Rt. 85, in front of the Work Release Center at Marcie’s Choice Lane, to illustrate the sobering impact of the heroin and opioid epidemic. Statistics for Frederick County in 2017 reflect the reality that on average we experience one overdose every single day and one death from an overdose about every 10 days. In Maryland, more people are dying from overdoses than are killed in car accidents or by homicide. Drugs are tearing families apart, leaving a wake of destruction, affecting many people beyond those with addictions including young children.

The billboard will update statistics monthly to raise public awareness as part of the county’s fight to end this vicious cycle. Advocacy groups like the Maryland Heroin Awareness Advocates, the Crossroads Center of Frederick and the Richard Carbaugh Hope Foundation all supported the billboard. Advocates also are working with the Town of Thurmont, which is interested in erecting a similar sign in the town.

It is time for families to talk about this heroin and opioid epidemic and its serious impacts with all their family members, friends and neighbors. The average age of someone overdosing is a young adult in their 20s but we have people of all ages, including in their 50s and 60s, dying from this addiction. There is hope and there is help. If you need help or know someone who does, you can call 2-1-1.

Celebrations and events

Congratulations to Grace Rocky Hill Lutheran Church in Woodsboro on their celebration of 250 years of service. I was honored to join the congregation for their church service, picnic, and historic tours. Since the church’s humble beginnings in the 1767, members of Grace Rocky Hill Lutheran have worked hard, putting their faith into action and making a difference in our community!

Earlier this spring, I also had the opportunity to visit the annual Thurmont Business Showcase which was bustling with activity. It is a great event and a great way to learn about the fabulous businesses operating in the northern part of our county. I’m always impressed when I meet with the men and women who choose to start and grow their businesses in Frederick County.

This month, remember to stop by Vigilant Hose Company’s Spring Fling on June 10th at Mount St. Mary’s. I look forward to seeing you on June 24th at Community Heritage Day in Emmitsburg!

Read other articles from Frederick County Government Officials