Harford executive praises county workers' cost cuts

The Baltimore Sun

In what amounted to a paean to self-sufficiency during difficult economic times, Harford County Executive David R. Craig made the creativity of county employees in reducing operating costs the centerpiece of his State of the County address to the County Council last night.

"Looking to Washington for bailouts and to Annapolis for solutions will not solve the challenges we face," Craig said during an eight-minute speech.

Craig said that among the county's key achievements for the past year was its rewrite of the 26-year-old zoning code. The new 800-page document, which contains 150 amendments, will "set the course for the future development of Harford County for the next several generations," he said.

The past year also "offered the first concrete proof" that the military base realignment known as BRAC "is really happening," Craig said, pointing to the fact that 300 people moved to the county from Fort Monmouth, N.J., with 900 more to follow this year.

Craig said he was proudest of the way county employees had responded to news they received 15 months ago that, because of a miscalculation by state officials, the county's budget would be $13.4 million smaller than expected.

"Our employees use this as an opportunity to examine their own operations," he said. He pointed to $250,000 in savings at the county landfill, which brought no disruption of service, as well as reductions in overtime hours, travel and training for county employees.

Craig said he felt this team approach and creativity will help the county achieve its goals in the coming year, including school construction, land preservation and improvement of county roads.

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