During the Young Board there has been a net increase of 3,015 jobs in Frederick County. This is to be contrasted with a net job loss of 343 jobs during the Gardner Board term. During the first 3 ½ years of the Young Board the unemployment rate has dropped from 6.9% to 4.9% in Frederick County. Certainly improvements in the national economy contributed to these improvements, but the policies of the Young Board was also a major contributor to this improvement. Other Maryland counties, including Washington County, have not experienced these same improvements that Frederick County has experienced. It is the actions of the Young Board that have brought better results in Frederick County.
In 2010 the most important county campaign issue was jobs. Unemployment was 9.6% nationally, 7.9% in Maryland, and 6.9% in Frederick County. Unemployment was so bad that foreclosures in the county were being filed at the rate of over 200/month. Both of these problems contributed to revenue problems for the County government. Lower property values caused lower property value assessments, and unemployment reduced the County’s income tax revenues.
These problems put pressure on the County government. The Gardner BOCC was at least one year too slow in responding to these revenue shortages. The Gardner Board increased the number of County employees by 220 in FY2009 and FY2010. Then in 2010, in its FY2011 budget, the Gardner Board did reduce the number of County employees by 145, but this still left a net increase of 75 County employees. The cutting of 145 employees was the right thing to do to reduce the cost of County government, but it was not enough.
But the Gardner Board caused other damage, too; it established policies that blocked needed private job growth for the County at a time when the County was desperate for new jobs. (1) The Gardner Board established anti-growth policies (including the 2010 Comprehensive Plan), which erased decades of prior planning for roads and homes, in an overt attempt to stop as much growth as possible. (2) The Gardner Board administered hundreds of administrative fees and procedures that blocked and discouraged residential and business development. (3) The Gardner Board ran the permitting and review departments with an attitude and practice that sought to block, delay or complicate virtually every matter that came before it. The Gardner Board’s “No Growth,” uncooperative, and unfriendly attitude set an oppressive, burdensome tone that was reflected by staff in its permitting and review departments, which discouraged and threatened builders and developers at a time when the county economy badly needed new development.
While the Gardner Board administered its anti-growth policies, they nevertheless insisted that they were a pro-job board. They may even sincerely think they were pro job; but in that case, they just don’t get it.
After the Young Board’s election in November 2010, it promptly went to work correcting and eliminating hundreds of cumbersome and unnecessary fees and procedures. The Young Board transformed the attitudes of the Permitting and Review staff to be cooperative, helpful and responsive to the business community. The “Open for Business” signs that the Young Board put up around the County were symbols of the genuine change in the County’s approach to business growth.
The Young Board promptly amended its APFO to remove the term recently added by the Gardner Board that would have overturned every municipal APFO term that was less restrictive than that of the County’s APFO.
The Young Board facilitated a sewer service agreement with the City of Frederick and developers to open the way for the Homewood Senior Center to be built on the north side of Willow Lane. The Gardner Board had stubbornly fought this, taking the unreasonable position that although they admitted that water service could be extended north to the Crum Farm annexations, that were blocking the extending of sewer service to those same areas.
The Young Board restored the previous municipal growth boundaries to all of the municipalities to the extent that the municipalities wanted it restored.
CONCLUSION: The Young Board has brought 3,015 new jobs to the county and has lowered the unemployment rate to 4.9% (May 2014). The Young Board has transformed Frederick County into a government that is indeed “open for business.” The Young Board continues to maintain a cooperative permitting staff, and the Board restored the long-standing land use plans that will now bring some new jobs and will bring some residential growth and road improvements in areas where there is a demand for it. These actions have helped and will continue to help the job growth that our opponents have fought to prevent. During the last three years of the Gardner Board there was a net job loss of 3,232 jobs.