With its large population, strong economy and the presence of so many critical statewide and national assets, Anne Arundel County is poised to be a model for the rest of the state — an economically vibrant community with strong schools, safe streets, an efficient county government and clean and picturesque waterways.
Priority Tax Relief
During the course of the next four years, we will implement a five-part plan to achieve our goal of a new era of prosperity in our county. These priorities have a direct impact on my commitment in improving the business climate.
The first part of our plan is tax relief. My first budget will include a 3% property tax decrease, which will make being here more affordable for families and business. A conservative tax climate will result in new businesses and new jobs.
A lower property tax bill also will make a difference. It is just a first step on a long-term effort to reduce the overall burden of excessive taxes and fees on our citizens that are hindering our county from reaching its full potential.
Education System Improvements
The second part of our plan is to improve our educational system. Our economy cannot be strong without an educated and highly skilled workforce to support it. Therefore, I am committed to working closely with our school leadership to support them in their efforts to close the achievement gap and eliminate educational disparities between communities, so that every child gets a great education.
Common sense and academic research tell us that smaller high schools can better foster academic success, help close the achievement gap, reduce behavioral challenges, simplify administration and increase after-school opportunities for children. I will work with the school board to develop a new model for school construction to develop smaller, neighborhood high schools where children are known and nurtured.
I believe we can accomplish this plan within the existing school construction budget, and I look forward to partnering with the school board in developing this new vision for school construction.
Focus on Public Safety
Our county cannot reach its full potential until we tackle the problem of crime in our communities. Not only does crime devastate families and destabilize neighborhoods, it also hampers our economic vitality.
Anne Arundel County faces several challenges. We are seeing increasing demands for emergency medical transport and fire suppression. There is an offender population that must be reintegrated into society in a way that they can be productive members of the community. Our county must also mitigate a growing gang presence and illegal drug trade; we are experiencing a fatality a week from heroin overdose.
I am proud to have assembled a group of seasoned law enforcement professionals to join me in this fight and usher in a new era of cooperation in public safety. New police chief Tim Altomare, new fire chief Allan Graves and corrections superintendent Terry Kokolis will partner with me, Sheriff Ron Bateman and State’s Attorney Wes Adams to face these challenges head on and make our county the safest in Maryland.
Commitment to Constituents
We are fortunate to have a skilled and dedicated corps of county employees; I have been privileged to work closely with many of them during my years as a state delegate. But they are impeded in their work by outdated technology, inefficient processes, procedural requirements and bureaucratic impediments.
Citizens expect county services to be delivered quickly, cost effectively and courteously. That is why we are committed to ensuring that county government is always focused on the citizens of Anne Arundel County.
I have asked our citizen transition committees to deliver to me by the end of January a series of recommendations to address these issues.
One of the most popular amenities enjoyed by our residents and appreciated by our businesses is our proximity to the Chesapeake Bay. That is why I want Anne Arundel County to lead Maryland in the effort to clean up our waterways.
We will move aggressively and responsibly to upgrade our failing system of stormwater pipes and to restore eroded creeks that are dumping pollution into our waterways. We will also continue making progress to upgrade our pumping stations and wastewater treatment plants. With these efforts, we can make measurable and substantial improvements in water quality during the next decade.
As we begin a new year with a new administration, there is much to celebrate in our county, but there is also much more work to be done. I look forward to working with you in making Anne Arundel County the best place to live, work and start a business in Maryland.