Baltimore County Now
— January Blizzard Most Costly in County History
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced that in the wake of the heaviest – and most costly – single snowstorm in the County’s history, crews and equipment are ready to tackle tonight’s forecasted snow, and salt supplies are replenished with final deliveries taking place today. The Kamenetz administration increased salt storage capacity by 20,000 tons this year, bringing the total to 80,000 tons of salt stored in 15 salt barns around the County.
The Baltimore County Bureau of Highways crews and contractors will be working around the clock tonight, and for as long as is needed to clear roads for safe travel.
Winter Storm Jonas Was the Costliest Single Snowstorm in County’s History
January’s blizzard brought not just the highest snow accumulations on record, it also topped the charts in terms of the cost of snow removal for a single storm in Baltimore County history. The County has tallied the total storm expenses at $9.4 million dollars. This eclipses the 2010 twin snowstorms, which cost $4 million and $7 million individually.
It costs approximately $54,000 per hour to plow snow from Baltimore County’s 8,742 County-maintained roads and approximately $109,000 per hour to spread salt.
This storm has exceeded the $6 million “placeholder” figure the County listed in the Fiscal Year 2016 operating budget for storm operations. The County routinely transfers funds into this budget line item from undesignated surplus when needed to cover additional costs for snow removal.
“It is important to keep in mind that this $6 million figure is simply a starting point,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “We will allocate whatever is needed to ensure public safety for the remainder of the winter. Whatever Mother Nature throws at us, we will handle.”
County Reviewing Communications Protocols for Major Storms
While feedback from County residents has been overwhelmingly positive regarding the job that Baltimore County crews did in removing this historic snowfall, one concern that did arise was the need to increase capacity for customer service calls during storm emergencies. Kamenetz said he has tasked his key staffers with recommending technical and other improvements to enhance the County’s customer service in times of emergency. He hopes to have those recommendations within the next month.
County Provides Storm Updates on Website and Social Media
Residents and the travelling public can get updated information about Baltimore County’s snow removal operations and road conditions on the County website and on Twitter.
The County website provides the latest on road conditions, current plowing operations, winter storm tips and more at the Snowfighter web page at baltimorecountymd.gov/snowfighter, which also includes Twitter updates from Baltimore County Emergency Management. These updates are also available on Twitter by using our Twitter handle, @bacoemergency.
The County Snowfighter web feature provides a link to live traffic camera feeds from the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Coordinated Highways Action Response Team (CHART). It also offers a link to the County’s list of road closures, which provides details on roads that are currently closed due to repairs, accidents, weather or other hazards. This list is updated frequently, so we recommend that people check back often for the latest status. State roads and interstates are not included. For information on state roads, please see the Maryland Department of Transportation’s travel advisories and road closures web page at http://www.chart.md.gov/TravInfo/Default.aspx.
Jennifer Werry Stewart
Baltimore County Government Coordinator, 2015 Race for the Cure
Chief of Staff, Baltimore County Fire Department
If you are in Hunt Valley on a certain Sunday morning every October, you will be amazed to witness what looks like a sea of pink filling the roads and sidewalks!
I am excited to report that, once again, Baltimore County employees have been the top fundraiser among groups participating in the 2015 Race for the Cure. We are happy to partner with Komen Maryland to host the Race for the Cure each year and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz is pleased to serve as the honorary chair for this remarkable event.
Special congratulations go out to Paramedic/Firefighter Linda Sears who was this year’s recipient of The Power of One award from Komen Maryland, presented to her at its annual appreciation reception last week by Komen Maryland Executive Director, Mark Roeder. (Photo credit: Ashley Michelle Photography.)
Linda has been the captain of the Fire Department’s Race for the Cure team for nine years and during that time, the team has raised $93,000 to support those affected by breast cancer. Linda was instrumental in registering people to participate in the race and created commemorative t-shirts each year to raise donations.
Baltimore County Government was also recognized at the reception as the top group fundraiser for the 2015 Race for the Cure. Sixteen teams from various county agencies collected almost $30,000 last year.
Thanks very much to everyone who participated, and let’s beat our own record and make Hunt Valley even pinker this coming October!
– Recognized for Streamlining Social Services Approvals Process
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced that the County has won the prestigious “Bright Idea Award” from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government through their 2015 Innovation in American Government Program. The award praises the County’s Social Services Eligibility Determination Improvement project.
This project overhauled the County’s social services application and eligibility process for critical programs like food stamps, temporary cash assistance, medical assistance and temporary disability assistance.
The new process, developed in-house by the Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in collaboration with the Office of Information Technology (OIT), significantly improved the way requests are handled by shifting HHS case workers from handling individual caseloads to a more effective team-based caseload management system. The County now uses technology to replace a paper-based approval process, reducing backlogs and improving work quality, as well as providing for employee skill set development.
“I am very proud of our HHS and OIT Directors Branch and Stradling and their staffs for taking the initiative to use the latest technology to better meet the needs of some of our most vulnerable County residents,” said Kamenetz. “Now, our social services offices are much better equipped to meet the ever-increasing demand for assistance by providing superior customer service. This is the way government is supposed to work.”
The implementation of the project resulted in the following improvements:
- Average application completion times improved by 70% (from 7.8 days to 2.3 days); reapproval times improved by 65% (from 9.8 days to 3.4).
- Expected completion time of 96% dropped from 15.9 to 6.5 days for applications (57% improvement) and from 27.6 to 9.47 days for reapprovals (66% improvement)
About the Award
Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School, John F. Kennedy School of Government's “Bright Idea Award” serves to highlight and promote creative government initiatives and partnerships so that government leaders, public servants, and other individuals can learn about noteworthy ideas and can adopt those initiatives that can work in their own communities.
“Finding innovative ways to meet the growing demand for our services is an ongoing challenge,” said Director of Health and Human Services, Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch. “Successful implementation of this project is helping us to better serve our customers.”