It outlines five goals for the future in Frederick County.
Frederick, Md (KM). During her public information briefing on Thursday, Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner released the strategic plan for the county. It identifies accomplishments during her five years in office, and what citizens can expect in the future.
“Frederick County is poised for the future,” she said, in a statement. “We have exceptional schools, a safe community, a thriving economy with thousands of new jobs over the past few years, and a high quality of l life that is the envy of mid-size communities around the country.”
The strategic plan contains five goals. One is education. Gardner said the county must continue to bring in the best teachers and making sure their pay is competitive with surrounding jurisdictions. She noted that her budget provides funding the recent salary transition plan for instructors.
But Gardner said challenge of education will continue. “We need to continue to identity adequate, sustainable funding for education, both on the operating side of the budget and also the capital side of the budget for school construction,” she says. The county’s spending per pupil has increased by $700, while the state has only go up by $129 per pupil.
Another goal is seniors, making sure older adults have access to health care, helping seniors who wish to age in place; and providing employment and volunteer opportunities for active older adults. “We’re also drafting a plan to modernize and the expand the senior centers, and to meet the programmatic needs,” says Gardner. “For the first time ever, I actually had a petition from seniors in Urbana to expand the space in our senior center there.”
Community needs is also listed as a goal, and that includes public safety, such as fire protection and law enforcement. “We also need to continue to add public safety positions, particularly in fire and EMS, but also in the Sheriff’s Office and in 911 communications. We applied for a new SAFER grant which is a federal grant to add 38 fire fighters which we hope to hear about in the next month or so. We developing long term plans for staffing and competitive pay,” says Gardner.
Another community need is providing workforce housing, according to County Executive Gardner. “We’re dedicating part of the recordation tax for workforce housing . There’s a bill before the Council right now to do that. We’re trying to identify additional land for workforce housing projects. And we’re drafting legislation to allow affordable dwelling units, not just in our rural areas and in existing housing, but to be built along with new housing,” she said.
Jobs is another goal, along with growth. Gardner says part of growth is protecting the county’s cultural and historical sites. “We’ve already taken a first step with this initiative with the hiring of a preservation planner in our Division of Planning and Permitting. But we are looking to develop a rural historic district preservation program to make that we preserve some of historic features and buildings in our rural areas,” says Gardner.
Part of handling growth is going green to save green, according to the County Executive. She says a solar array is under construction at the landfill which will provide power to seven county facilities. “Now the coolest part of that is that solar array will power the charges for the all-electric buses so they will truly be running on 100% renewable energy. And no one else in the region is doing that,” says Gardner. She notes that the electric buses are going down to Congress which is looking at what the county is doing with its all-electric transit buses.
The county is also looking for a second site for a solar array, she says.
By Kevin McManus