Tot lots and water fountains Baltimore County: Ruppersberger knows the mundane is often the most important.

September 09, 1997

PEOPLE OFTEN feel disconnected with government because they don't feel it does things that matter to their lives. This feeling can pervade even well-run administrations if they don't communicate with those they serve. Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger appears to grasp that.

Last week, Mr. Ruppersberger met with community leaders in the southwest and southeast parts of the county to update them on what has been done to improve these areas since he made revitalization of older neighborhoods a priority in his 1994 campaign. The meetings were not tied to a political happening, or even to the kickoff or completion of a project. They appear to be, simply, an effort to show citizens what government is doing.

Elected leaders have been known to ignore such unglamorous expenditures -- storm drains, alleys, curbs and gutters, school roofs and sediment control -- precisely because they are unglamorous. But Mr. Ruppersberger has put a great deal of tax money toward basic infrastructure. He understands the importance of such mundane things as tot lots and public water fountains that work. They are absolutely vital to the quality of citizens' lives.

In the long-neglected southwest and southeast, $192 million was allocated for infrastructure, from 1995 to 1998. Nearly 150 miles of road are being constructed or resurfaced. Roughly 119 alleys are being rebuilt, along with 26 miles of curbs and gutters. More than $65 million worth of school improvements are under way.

The money has come from increased borrowing at good interest rates, a massive increase in state aid due to more coooperation between county and state lawmakers and savings from reduced operating costs. The county seems to be focusing on the needs of its people -- something the people need to know.

Pub Date: 9/09/97

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