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 Harford County Executive Barry Glassman.
For more on the state of Harford County, watch the full In Focus interview above.
WMAR: What do you identify as the biggest challenge facing your county in 2016?
Glassman: The very flat national economic recovery will require Harford County to continue to be aggressive in economic development. Harford will continue to create opportunities in signature mixed-use development opportunities and tech transfer with Aberdeen Proving Ground. We are also promoting growth in the distribution sector, tourism, and small business development.
WMAR: What would you identify as a “win” in your county that people might not know about?
Glassman: Unless a citizen deals with our various departments on a daily basis, they may not be aware of the transformation in customer service, and the culture change in Harford County government. From the creation of our state-of –the-art Permit Center to innovative online tools, citizens are experiencing more customer-friendly and efficient services with improved turnaround times.
WMAR: Are there any new plans for 2016?
Glassman: We will be presenting HarfordNext, which is our master plan for the next generation. In collaboration with our communities, Harford will be updating our land use plan, and begin a countywide comprehensive rezoning process.
WMAR: What are some of the biggest needs or challenges in your county’s education system?
Glassman: Suburban school districts are experiencing the effects of lagging state support combined with fairly flat enrollment growth. The Glassman administration will continue our efforts to reinvest in salaries and explore alternative construction techniques to fund future new construction.
WMAR: Describe the status of your county’s water, roads and sewers. What are your plans to improve, repair and/or maintain the infrastructure?
Glassman: Harford County’s public water and sewer system is strong, and continues to operate as one of the region’s most efficient systems. The 2015 rate revisions were adopted to secure its viability. Harford continues to push for the return of local highway user funds to begin rebuilding our local road network, which has suffered from the absence of this funding.
WMAR: What is the biggest public safety issue facing your county? What is your plan to address it?
Glassman: The heroin epidemic continues to threaten the fabric of Harford’s families and communities. Our 2015 efforts have moved Harford from third to sixth in the state in fatalities. We will continue our multifaceted approach of early education, prevention, treatment opportunities and enforcement.
WMAR: If you had to describe your county in one phrase, what would it be?
Glassman: Maryland’s New Center of Opportunity.