County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger says the county has fought hard to rebound from the recession. He takes credit for cutting government; initiating education, community conservation and public safety programs; and improving relations between businesses and the community.
But he acknowledges that the county has benefited from an improved economy.
The business community, once critical of the county government, praises the executive for helping turn the county around. "A lot of credit goes to Dutch," says David S. Thaler, chairman of the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce.
But the optimism is tinged with concern.
Although building permits are up, builders complain that profit margins are down because of rising development costs and a diminishing supply of land.
And the county's population is aging and growing poorer. Although its 1995 per capita income of $27,661 is second only to Howard, that number is skewed by some extremely wealthy residents. "The very wealthy people in Baltimore County are very, very wealthy," says Brooks, the demographer.
A more accurate income picture can be found in the county's median household income, which at $43,800 is the lowest of any county in the region. Between 1990 and 1993, the county's hTC poverty rate increased from 5.5 percent to 8 percent as it drew poor city residents searching for work, safety and better schools.
"While a number of people are doing very well in Baltimore County, the county will have creeping poverty," says Brooks.
Ruppersberger said he is trying to turn the demographics to the county's advantage by recruiting senior citizens to volunteer for community service and fostering programs to train workers.
"We have a plan that seems to be working," he says.
Pub Date: 2/18/98