County Comment: County administrator thanks employees at year's end

County Comment
County administrator thanks employees at year's end
By Norman Bassett
Washington County Public Information Officer

Washington County Administrator Gregory B. Murray lauded county employees for helping keep budgets in check while providing exemplary services to citizens, in a letter dated December 29th:
"To our valued employees, a note of thanks:
As we enjoy a brief reprieve over the holidays, I wanted to again take the opportunity to thank each and every one of you for the quality and quantity of work you continue to provide our County residents. Each of you is a piece of a very complicated and efficient machine that has continued to work through difficult economic times that have caused many others to falter, and for this I thank you.
We are fortunate as the face of Washington County Government, and through the accomplishments each of you helps to achieve, to have an organization with a strong financial and operating plan that has helped us take on the ever-increasing economic challenges thrown our way. We have successfully balanced operating and capital priorities using all available tools, even contract services and part-time labor, to support a lean work force that continues to maintain services to our residents. As a matter of fact, the report entitled "2010 Overview of Maryland Local Governments" stated that less is spent on services by each County resident here than in any other County in the State. That is something to be proud of because this is one of the key factors that has allowed us to move steadily forward when others must now retreat.
While this has obviously meant that we could not always fund some requests to the level we would have liked, it has also prevented the need to make the drastic changes in operations that others are now unable to avoid. Of course this must be coupled with indicators of the job we are doing. Just doing it more cheaply doesn't mean we are doing it right. When looking at what we have achieved in the face of these economic challenges we can see that on the capital side we have replaced aging or unsuitable structures including schools, improved transit operations, continued to maintain roads and utilities, and upgraded facilities where required. On the operating side we have balanced this with improving emergency services and response capabilities, protecting citizens from crime, keeping roads clear and passable, providing reliable utility services, consolidating operations for efficiency, updating and managing policies required by State statute, supporting developer and private construction, finding and supporting companies that provide jobs, enhancing support for our municipalities, increasing our bond rating (which helps keeps costs lower for capital needs and gives us more money with which to operate), and maintaining a stable tax rate which is below the calculated constant yield (meaning we are doing more with less). All verifiable with statistics that show the great job you are doing. You are part of a well balanced plan that allows maximum productivity with the minimum resources we are currently dealt. You are responsible for these accomplishments, and from the perspective of someone who is also a taxpayer that has children and grandchildren growing up here (as do most of you), you can be proud of the impact you have at multiple levels. You have succeeded where many have failed.
As we move into the fiscal year 2012 budget cycle we know that revenue will again be reduced given the assessable tax base among other factors, and the burden of certain costs may again be shifted to the County. We will again endeavor to present the new Board with options that allow them to support a strong plan to continue moving the County forward. We know that they have a deep interest in making sound, informed decisions and look forward to their guidance as we move forward. We also expect that in the coming years we will again see an increase in available resources that will allow us to catch up on necessary deferrals and move forward at a pace commensurate with the sound fiscal practices within which we operate, and the operating plan to which each of you contributes.
Again I thank you for the work you do, and the support you provide for your respective departments and supervisors with whom you work. We cannot accomplish our goals without you and I look forward to working with you for a continued productive new year."