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Harford County executive touts accomplishments, raises inflation concerns during final State of the County address

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman used his eighth and final State of the County address to illustrate his administration’s accomplishments and outline the concerns that lie ahead.

In a prerecorded video shot at Havre de Grace High School, where Glassman graduated in 1980, and played at Tuesday’s County Council meeting, Glassman highlighted several economic accomplishments from his time in office. Topping his list were salary increases for teachers, police and county employees, lowering the county debt, and increasing the unassigned fund balance from $8 million in 2014, the year he took office, to $21 million at the end of 2021.

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“Despite the pandemic, we’ve been really able to turn the county around financially,” Glassman said in an interview before the council meeting.

Glassman also signed an executive order Tuesday authorizing the use of county EMS paramedic units to assist in high-call areas to relieve pressures on volunteer fire companies that provide most of the services.

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For his remaining 11 months in office, Glassman has other initiatives in mind. He plans to advance the county’s historical preservation efforts by duplicating the state’s African American Heritage Protection Program at the local level, which would provide funding to preserve sites (to be identified later) that are connected to the county’s African American history, and by declaring Juneteenth a county holiday. He’s also continuing to push for expanded broadband access across the county.

But Glassman said the county’s primary concern at the moment is “inflationary pressures.”

“Our capital projects are going to see an increase in costs. Some of that’s by supply chain shortages, increased labor costs and so forth,” Glassman said in the interview. “The other piece is that in order for us to keep our employees at least treading water or keeping them at pace with current cost of living, our labor costs across the board will increase.”

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 surge, Glassman currently is not considering reinstating a countywide mask mandate.

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“We continue to urge folks to get vaccinated, to practice social distancing,” he said. “At this point, we’re going to leave that out to individual decisions. But I never say never.”

Because of term limits, Glassman is prohibited from running for another term as county executive. He is, however, running for Maryland comptroller in this year’s election.

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