As 2015 comes to a close, WMAR is taking the opportunity to catch up with some of the county executives from around the area on the state of their counties.
The following is a brief Q&A with Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh.
For more on the state of Anne Arundel County, watch the video above.
WMAR: What do you identify as the biggest challenge facing your county in 2016?
Schuh: Our biggest challenge will be continuing the tremendous progress we made in 2015. Our administration plans to continue to work to reduce taxes and fees, improve our educational system, invest in public safety, reform county government, and improve our waterways.
WMAR: What would you identify as a “win” in your county that people might not know about?
Schuh: We were successful in getting our County Council to agree to allow county government to use 30 years bonds when financing capital projects. This reform will allow us to accelerate school construction, invest more in our road system, build more parks, build out our network of bike trails, and generally improve the overall quality of life in our county.
WMAR: Are there any new plans for 2016?
Schuh: This year we will be making historic efforts to reform county government to make it more customer service oriented. We want to reduce permit and inspection wait times, find efficiencies in our procurement procedures, and generally make government more effective and efficient for the people we serve.
WMAR: What are some of the biggest needs or challenges in your county’s education system?
Schuh: We need smaller, neighborhood high schools. With the average size of our high schools being approximately 2,000 students, we need to ensure a more effective learning environment for our students.
Working with the school board, we have been successful initiating plans for three new, smaller high schools (including the long awaited Crofton High School) to be built in the next ten years. I am excited to see these proposals become a reality.
WMAR: Describe the status of your county’s water, roads and sewers. What are your plans to improve, repair and/or maintain the infrastructure?
Schuh: We were excited this year to increase our investment in road maintenance by $9 million, which will help stabilize the system in our fast-growing county. Working with the Hogan Administration, we are hopeful we can begin restoring the highway user funding that was raided by the O’Malley Administration.
WMAR: What is the biggest public safety issue facing your county? What is your plan to address it?
Schuh: Heroin continues to remain a challenge in our county, which is why one of my first actions in office was to declare the heroin crisis a public health emergency. We formed a taskforce to tackle the problem, and are implementing its recommendations across-the-board.
The strategic investments in our last budget that have improved the situation, but it will continue to be a public safety and health challenge in the near term.
WMAR: If you had to describe your county in one phrase, what would it be?
Schuh: The best place in Maryland to live, work, and start a business.