With all our talk of untucked craziness and hissy fits this week, it’s been really easy to lose sight of the good happening in our county government. Today, County Executive Jan Gardner held a press conference to highlight her budget for the Fiscal Year 2017. Now this isn’t a done deal, there’ s still a bunch of hearings and county council meetings to be held, but oh how wonderful it is to have an executive who knows how important it is to invest in our community services. Here’s some of our faves:
The budget provides $10.5 million in funding to the Frederick County Public Schools above the minimum required Maintenance of Effort (MOE) level and an additional $500,000 in one-time funding for school technology.
Frederick Community College (FCC) plays an important role in lifelong learning and training adults of all ages for the workplace. The budget reflects an investment of $700,000 to help keep community college affordable and accessible. This investment will provide salary improvements for staff and make improvements to campus security.
The budget proposes adding three librarians to restore operating hours at our regional libraries – C. Burr Artz, Urbana and Thurmont. This will allow expanded hours until 9 p.m. during the week at these locations, facilitate greater use of the community rooms, and accommodate the needs of our library patrons. The long-awaited Walkersville Branch Library will move forward with construction. A significant portion of this project is funded by library impact fees and state funding.
The budget meets increasing demand for early childhood intervention services providing for two Occupational Therapists, a Speech Language Pathologist and funding for substitute therapists.
CREST is Frederick County’s first higher education center. It is uniquely designed to provide higher education in science and technology fields specifically to provide advanced degrees to meet workforce needs for local biotech and life science companies. The budget proposes $40,000 in annual funding to match city and state funds.
This budget provides for a new pay scale for both deputies and corrections staff. It is critically important that we pay competitive wages to value our existing employees and attract the best and brightest to work in our community. In addition, the budget provides for two new deputies for courthouse security, one new deputy for narcotics, and a fiscal services director. Division of Fire and Rescue Service.
The top priority in Fire and Rescue is to improve staffing levels to staff equipment and meet growing call volume. To achieve this goal, the budget adds 12 new firefighter positions. The budget also funds a firefighter/EMT recruit class, supports the fireparamedic conversion approved in the current fiscal year, and provides equipment and training support.
9-1-1 communications is a busy place and our call takers are on the front line of almost every emergency. On average, a call taker handles 50 calls per hour. The budget provides for four new call takers to meet growing call volume. These positions are part of a three year plan to increase current capabilities and to staff closer to industry standards.
Fulfilling a campaign promise to restore the county’s longstanding productive partnership with our non-profit human service agencies, the budget provides a modest increase of $250,000 to Community Partnership Grants. Grants awarded this year went to over 20 human service non-profit agencies in the county to provide for basic human needs, such as food, housing, medical care, car repair so people can get to work, and other basic needs.
The capital improvement program for FY 17 includes funding for the first phase of construction of the Othello Park near Rosemont and Brunswick, which will add needed sports fields and recreational opportunities in this area of the county. The capital budget also provides for planned upgrades to the Kemptown Park near Mount Airy/Monrovia. The Point of Rocks Commons Park also will move forward in the upcoming year.
In the face of a dramatic rise in overdoses and fatalities stemming from heroin and opiod abuse, the State of Maryland has decided to transition Health Departments away from providing direct substance abuse treatment to an oversight role. Treatment programs will shift to private sector providers. The Frederick County Health Department has been approved to continue the substance abuse program in the detention center as well as the methadone treatment program. Because the state will no longer directly support these programs, the budget provides gap funding to continue these critical substance abuse treatment and prevention programs.
There’s much more so read the entire proposal here.
The future is looking great for our county!