She says progress is being made on all fronts.
Frederick, Md (KM). The annual report and comprehensive annual financial report were released Thursday morning by County Executive Jan Gardner.
Part of the annual report addressed the economy, and she said new businesses want to locate in Frederick County, and those already here are interested in expanding. “We’ve reached a record 104,000 jobs, adding about 6500 net new jobs over the past five years,” Gardner said. “Frederick County is actually projected to see the fastest rate of business growth in the state of Maryland. Our rate in the number of new jobs and new businesses over the past year alone is nearly double the state’s increases.”
She says part of that growth is the biosciences and life sciences companies, pointing to Kite Pharma, which is constructing a facility in Urbana. The company is expected to bring hundreds of high technology jobs and provide “cutting edge cancer treatment,” Gardner says.
Also, the county is making progress in farmland preservation. “There are now about 65,000 acres of farmland in our community that are part of one of our preservation programs. And we have a goal of preserving 100,000 acres,” she said.
The County Executive has often talked about her investment in public education, and she discussed it on Thursday during her public information briefing. “This year, we fully implemented a new pay scale for our teachers and our school staff because we know that having the best teachers and staff in the classroom will deliver the best results for our students,” she says.
Part of the investment in public education includes the acceleration of school construction, according to Gardner. “The New Urbana Elementary School will open for students next fall, and that will relieve overcrowding at the elementary level in the Urbana area,” she said. “A replacement Rock Creek School broke ground this fall in Walkersville, and a new Blue Heron Elementary School will begin construction soon in Lake Linganore, and be open to students in the fall of 2021.”
Gardner says every student who comes to Frederick County Public Schools deserves a seat.
One problem the county faces is finding enough affordable housing for young families and seniors. Gardner says progress was made this year on that front. She says 59 units at 520 North Market Street in Frederick opened this year. The building was once a school, and later housed some county offices. In addition, Gardner says some affordable rental units were made available at the Ballenger Run development, which took advantage of the County’s Moderately Price Dwelling Units program. “Legislation also passed this year dedicating a portion of our existing recordation tax to support the creation of affordable housing, and to assist first-time homebuyers,” says Gardner.
Part of Thursday’s public information briefing was the release of a comprehensive financial annual report, which concludes the county’s finances are sound. “In fact, the overall financial position of the county improved in fiscal year 2019,” says Gardner. “Over the past five or six years, property and income tax rates have remained constant, and we have steadily increased our reserves, and restored and stabilized our fleet fund.”
She says it’s due the prudent way the county handles money. “In September, we received the lowest interest rate in our county’s history when we sold bonds, and that low interest rate saved taxpayers millions of dollars. We estimate over $10-million,” says Gardner. “And the savings were made possible because of our AAA bond rating from all three New York City bond rating agencies.”
The comprehensive financial report is scheduled to be presented to the County Council next week.
By Kevin McManus