Maryland's economic squeeze has forced more than layoffs of city and county workers. It has interfered with government decision-making, racially polarized citizens and reduced trust in government and business, according to a survey of local government officials.
"The impact of the economic recession of the state is widespread and substantial, even in the jurisdictions that have experiences lesser economic problems," said Karol H.
Borowski, president of the Baltimore-based International Institute for Suburban and Regional Studies.
The institute describes itself as a non-partisan, non-profit research and consulting organization. The group, and its affiliated Maryland Center, polled public and private officials over the past two months.
What they found was not surprising: 69.2 percent of local governments laid off workers during the recession, and 27 percent said more job cuts were likely to come. Nearly a third have already increased taxes, and 41 percent said they probably would do so in the next year.
The respondents also reported dire assessments of the impact the recession has had on the quality of life. Homelessness and crime have increased, while the resources available to fight them are declining, the survey reported.
"The current . . . reduction of state and local governmental functions has resulted in an unfair, piecemeal and thoroughly unprofessional approach to governmental planning and finance," Borowski said.
"The process has stirred racial and intergenerational tensions across the state," he said.
Borowski and his group recommend the establishment of non-partisan, economic task forces in regions around the state to develop solutions.
The task forces should consist of public and private leaders and seek to privatize public services, seek new revenue sources for government, and draw up strategic plans for their areas, the group said.