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County Comment: State of the County presentations highlight moving & the speed of business
State of the County presentations highlight moving & the speed of business
By Sarah Lankford Sprecher
Director of Public Relations & Community Affairs
As part of its regular meeting on February 7th, 2012, Washington County Government delivered its annual State of the County presentations, in the morning as a Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event, and in the evening at a first-of-its-kind public event.
Both events included a question and answer session with the Commissioners.
A video program, Moving @ the Speed of Business, featured the Commissioners, local businesses, and County employees. The video explained how the County has handled tough economic times, and has had to do more with less. A decline in revenues from local, state, and federal sources combined with mandatory cost increases has required the County to use limited resources effectively and efficiently to benefit the citizens and businesses of Washington County.
The presentation focused on why the County must operate as efficiently and effectively as a business by making decisions about reorganizations, ensuring a strong financial framework, focusing on customer service, recognizing the hard work of employees, maintaining strong partnerships, continuing strategic planning, and celebrating the successes and achievements.
A major restructuring of County Government operations took place in 2011. The County reduced staff by 28 positions and merged several departments to increase efficiency.
The reorganization saved over $500,000 in taxpayer money. To further reduce costs, the County redeemed the 2006 Airport Runway Bonds, and this saves $4.5 million in interest expense - reducing overall debt by $12.2 million.
The County continued to reduce its overall operating costs for three years in a row, and has not implemented a tax increase to citizens in twelve years. The Maryland Department of Legislative Services ranks the Washington County General Fund as the lowest cost per capita for services of all 23 counties and Baltimore City. This is attributed to the efficiency, staffing levels, and cost containment exhibited in Washington County Government operations.
Partnerships with Washington County Public Schools (WCPS), Hagerstown Community College (HCC), the Washington County Sheriff's Office (WCSO) and the Washington County Free Library (WCFL) have created progress - to benefit education, workforce, safety, and well-being in the community.
During the video's conclusion, County Commissioners and County Administrator Greg Murray reaffirmed to the public that, "Every decision we make and every project we undertake considers cost effectiveness, community benefits, and positive customer service! We look forward to Moving @ the Speed of Business with you in 2012."
The video will be available for online viewing at the Washington County website, www.washco-md.net under the streaming video link Video On Demand application.