Safety net requires efficient government

December 22, 2010|By Kevin Kamenetz

As a lifelong resident of Baltimore County, I have seen first-hand how our county has evolved over the past half-century from a sleepy suburb into a vibrant, diverse community. With that evolution, however, coupled with the recent economic downturn, increasing numbers of people struggling with poverty have come to rely upon our county for additional services.

As county executive, I recognize that leaders at every level of government — federal, state, and local — also struggle with difficult budgetary circumstances. Baltimore County must do more with less. We must maximize efficiency, consolidate services, and become increasingly innovative. In just my first week in office, I eliminated 143 vacant positions in county government and consolidated four agencies into existing departments, resulting in taxpayer savings of $8 million annually.

Preparing for the next half century, Baltimore County must increase its use of technology applications in all areas, utilizing modern efficiencies to provide more effective delivery of services, even with reduced staffing levels.

By merging the Office of Community Conservation and the Office of Workforce Development with other county agencies, we will streamline delivery of those core functions through the existing departments of Planning, Social Services, and Economic Development, while reducing redundancy and needless bureaucracy.

While Baltimore County is committed to fiscal responsibility, we will not turn our back on those in their time of greatest need.

In the near future, a new community resource center will replace an abandoned grocery store in Randallstown, extending new career and educational opportunities to more of our citizens. The Liberty Center will house a campus of the Community College of Baltimore County, a Workforce Development Office, and a branch of the Department of Social Services. CCBC will offer courses and programs to train residents in marketable job skills, particularly in the areas of health and human services and construction trades. The Workforce Development staff will provide job assistance, one-on-one career consultation, coaching, and on-site job recruitment. Baltimore County will continue to make government work for all of its people, particularly for those most challenged by the current economy.

And still, I will continue to identify significant cost savings in our budget, while maintaining the county's triple-A bond rating and balanced budget, without furloughs or layoffs of employees.

I am committed to continue providing a social safety net for our citizens and to focus on our venerable neighborhoods and commercial corridors. However, I will do so in a manner that ensures that every cent of taxpayer money is effectively and efficiently spent. I am confident that is what the people of Baltimore County expect of their government.

Kevin Kamenetz is the Baltimore County executive.

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