Of­fi­cials dis­cuss in­fra­struc­ture, econ­omy at state con­fer­ence

An­nual Ocean City event hosted trade show, info ses­sions

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By PAUL LAGASSE pla­gasse@somd­news.com

For county of­fi­cials, the Au­gust cal­en­dar or­bits around the Mary­land As­so­ci­a­tion of Coun­ties’ 2017 Sum­mer Con­fer­ence in Ocean City. The sched­ule for the four-day event is packed with work­shops, panel dis­cus­sions and meet­ings.

Charles County Com­mis­sion­ers’ Vice Pres­i­dent Amanda Stew­art (D), Com­mis­sioner De­bra Davis (D) and County Ad­min­is­tra­tor Michael Malli­noff at­tended this year’s event, which ran from Wed­nes­day, Aug. 16, through Satur­day, Aug. 19.

This was Malli­noff’s sec­ond year at­tend­ing the con­fer­ence. Net­work­ing with col­leagues, par­tic­u­larly

other county ad­min­is­tra­tors, is a high­light.

“We get to catch up on is­sues re­lated to the pro­fes­sion and talk a lit­tle about our­selves,” Malli­noff said. It’s also an op­por­tu­nity to plan the fall con­fer­ence of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of County Ex­ec­u­tives, which Malli­noff also at­tends.

One of the ses­sions that Malli­noff par­tic­i­pated in looked at how coun­ties in­sure their work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion funds, to see if there were any lessons that would be of value for Charles County. He also at­tended ses­sions on eco­nomic devel­op­ment, qual­i­fied en­ergy con­ser­va­tion bonds and the ways that other Mary­land coun­ties are ad­dress­ing the opi­oid epi­demic in their com­mu­ni­ties.

“Eco­nomic devel­op­ment is a big is­sue with our county,” Malli­noff said. “We want to bring in more busi­ness so that our res­i­dents don’t nec­es­sar­ily have to drive into D.C. We are in­ter­ested in the dif­fer­ent ways of bring­ing in a di­ver­si­fied econ­omy.”

Malli­noff met with the state sec­re­tary of trans­porta­tion to dis­cuss the pro­posed light rail line along Route 5 from Branch Av­enue and in­ter­changes in that same cor­ri­dor along U.S. 301.

“For me, the con­fer­ence serves a dual pur­pose,” said Malli­noff, who served as a mu­nic­i­pal ad­min­is­tra­tor be­fore join­ing the Charles County gov­ern­ment. “It’s a way for me to bet­ter un­der­stand county gov­ern­ment and my col­leagues, and also to make sure that my county has good rep­re­sen­ta­tion at the event.”

Stew­art has at­tended the con­fer­ence ev­ery year that she’s been a com­mis­sioner. “For me, there are two main ben­e­fits to at­tend­ing the con­fer­ence,” Stew­art said. “The first is net­work­ing. It’s an op­por­tu­nity to meet not only with col­leagues across the state, but also with com­pa­nies and busi­nesses that are there.

“The sec­ond is the way that MACo has structured the con­fer­ences to of­fer train­ing and classes that are de­signed to help lo­cal gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials be more suc­cess­ful in their roles. You don’t have to fly across the coun­try to be a bet­ter of­fi­cial. MACo has or­ga­nized their event to help peo­ple strengthen them­selves in their com­mu­ni­ties.”

Stew­art said that one of the stand­out events was a panel dis­cus­sion on em­ploy­ment is­sues which fo­cused on pre­ferred em­ploy­ment prac­tices and le­gal re­stric­tions re­lated to hir­ing, fir­ing, pro­mot­ing, and dis­ci­plin­ing em­ploy­ees.

“That ses­sion kept com­ing up in dis­cus­sions all through­out the rest of the con­fer­ence,” Stew­art said. “As a county com­mis­sioner, it’s one of my re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to en­sure that both em­ploy­ees and the county are pro­tected,” she said.

The trade show, which runs through­out the event, is a high­light of the con­fer­ence and an op­por­tu­nity to pro­mote the county to busi­nesses. For ex­am­ple, Stew­art spoke to rep­re­sen­ta­tives of a large com­pany that is con­sid­er­ing Charles County as one of the places into which it might ex­pand. “That was my mo­ment to re­ally pro­mote the county and ex­plain why their home should be Charles County,” Stew­art said.

A high­light of the trade show for Stew­art was the op­por­tu­nity to talk with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Mary­land Sys­tem of Li­braries. “They got so ex­cited about the county’s mo­bile li­brary pro­gram,” said Stew­art, who is on the li­brary board. “They want to come down and see how they did it.”

Stew­art added that she ap­pre­ci­ated the time that county staff mem­bers took to at­tend the con­fer­ence as well. “It’s not just about elected of­fi­cials,” Stew­art said. “It’s also for county lead­ers. We are our best when we can col­lab­o­rate, net­work, and learn to­gether.”

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