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Keyword: department of permits approvals and inspections

County’s “Balancing Act” Budget Platform Named One of Nation’s Best Programs as National Association Of Counties Highlights Five County Departments for Effective Leadership

Baltimore County earned seven awards from the National Association of Counties’ (NACo) 2020 Achievement Awards, which recognize innovative, effective county government programs that enhances service and improves quality of life for residents.

“My administration is committed to innovation, citizen engagement, and a government that is more transparent and accessible to all our people,” Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said. “We’re honored to be recognized by NACo for all these efforts and we will continue building on these efforts to realize a better Baltimore County for every resident.”

Since 1970, NACo’s annual Achievement Awards have recognized county government innovations, and are given in 18 different categories that reflect the comprehensive services counties provide, including financial management, county administration, information technology, health and civic engagement.

Five Departments Honored

Five Baltimore County Departments earned honors in the 2020 NACo Achievement Awards:

The Baltimore County Office of Information Technology won a 2020 Achievement Award in the category of Financial Management for the County’s budget “Balancing Act” platform.

Out of hundreds of programs, Baltimore County’s Balancing Act was awarded Best in Category—a distinction offered only to one program per category each year—due to its exceptional results and unique innovations.

The interactive online tool allowed residents to learn more about the state of Baltimore County’s budget and the difficult choices under consideration during the ongoing budgeting process. Through “Balancing Act,” residents could examine the current fiscal situation and simulate reallocating funds in order to balance spending and revenue.

The Baltimore County Department of Aging won two 2020 Achievement Awards:

  • 2020 Achievement Award in the category of Health for the “Living Connected” initiative to combat social isolation.

In response to a national epidemic of loneliness among older Americans, the Baltimore County Department of Aging (BCDA) developed the “Living Connected” initiative to offer a multifaceted approach to combatting social isolation through awareness education for all ages and engagement activities for older adults and caregivers.

  • 2020 Achievement Award in the category of Health for the Adult Well-Being Assessment to help measure quality of life indicators.

The Baltimore County Department of Aging embarked on a partnership with the National Council on Aging (NCOA) to provide data for the Aging Hub of the 100 Million Healthier Lives Project using the Adult Well-Being Assessment (AWA) to better understand population health outcomes that can influence policy and fiscal decision-making.

The Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services won two 2020 Achievement Awards:

  • 2020 Achievement Award in the category of Human Services for their Child Protective Services/Domestic Violence (CPS/DV) co-location efforts.

The Baltimore County Department of Social Services’ Child Protective Services/Domestic Violence Co-Location Program provides a comprehensive approach to families experiencing child maltreatment and intimate partner violence. Clients have access to safety planning services, immediate trauma-based therapy and linkages to trauma-based community resources.

  • 2020 Achievement Award in the category of Health for utilizing nursing services in harm reduction efforts.

The Baltimore County Department of Health’s Harm Reduction Program provides HIV and Hepatitis C testing, access to safe injection equipment, wound care, immunizations and other services to help decrease the risks of overdose and infectious disease transmissions. This program is the first Harm Reduction Program in the state to employ a Public Health Nurse to integrate health-related services within the Harm Reduction model.

The Baltimore County Department of Human Resources won a 2020 Achievement Award in the category of Personnel Management, Employment and Training for the Baltimore County Government Employee Mentorship Program.

In 2019, Baltimore County launched its first Employee Mentorship Program, which is designed to promote team-oriented work environments while focusing on enhancing career development, increasing employee engagement and retention, and building employee morale. The program hails open effective communication, leadership empowerment and coaching as key factors to its success.

The Department of Permits, Approvals, and Inspections, Department of Public Works, Department of Planning and the Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability in collaboration with the Office of Information Technology won a 2020 Achievement Award in the category of County Administration and Management for the Design of the Land Use Regulatory Automation (LURA) Program.

Baltimore County is modernizing its land use regulatory processes in order to make them more transparent and data-driven while improving overall customer service by strengthening inter-agency cooperation.

By Lee Jolley, Chief Electrical Inspector
Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections

Though there are many new devices designed to make our home safer, we still see a lot of electrical house fires. In fact, faulty electrical distribution or lighting equipment is the third leading cause of home fires in the U.S., behind cooking and heating equipment.  

We all have electricity in our homes, and most of us aren’t licensed electricians. So we may not understand how electrical fires can start.

Most electrical fires are caused by:

  • Loose connections
  • Buildup and ignition of flammable dryer lint
  • Improper use of extension cords
  • Old appliances not approved by Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL)
  • Worn out or broken switches and receptacles
Electrical fire in a wall outlet.

The U.S. Fire Administration puts the number of residential electrical fires at about 26,000 each year. Electrical issues are a factor in about one in ten home fires and 18 percent of fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

A little knowledge and some diligence on your part can prevent most electrical fires in your home.

Never use extension cords as a permanent wiring method. The wires in a cord are significantly smaller than the wiring in your walls and, over time, will heat up and catch fire. Consider the use of UL-rated cords and the addition of surge- protected power strips.

Empty the dryer lint tray after each load. Lint is extremely flammable and can ignite from heat from the dryer.

Old appliances, switches and receptacles should be replaced periodically. They wear out, and the connections inside separate slightly. When this happens, the electricity has to jump through the air to make the connection, heating the air around the connection and starting a fire.

How often to change devices depends on how often the device is used.

Usually, light switches should be changed at least every 10 years. They crack internally and dry out. You can't see the problem, so it's impossible to know that it needs to be changed. Use your best judgment with switches; older switches were more solid and were actually capable of withstanding much more use than modern switches.

The safety of receptacles is a little bit easier to judge. When the plugs no longer fit firmly in the socket, it's time to replace the receptacle. When you replace receptacles, you must bring them up to current (2017) National Electrical Code. Most receptacles in dwellings are required to be tamper resistant and Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter-protected (AFCI). When appliance cords become worn or when an appliance begins behaving badly, it's time to replace or repair it.

If you have aluminum wiring in your home, always have a licensed electrician make any repairs. Improper connections or connection to devices that are not designed for aluminum wiring can start a fire.

If you see your lights continually dim and grow bright, there could be a loose connection. Contact your utility company.

If you hear a sizzling noise coming from a switch or appliance, find the circuit breaker for that circuit and turn it off. Contact a licensed electrician to check the circuit.

If you smell ozone or an unusual electrical smell, something electrical may be heating up. Find the source and turn it off. Call a licensed electrician.

If you observe smoke or sparking, call 911. Trained firefighters will respond.

It is always a good practice to make sure circuits in the breaker box are properly identified. This will help you find the source of a circuit quickly if you have an emergency.

Always check to make sure any appliance you purchase is approved by UL (Underwriters Laboratory) or another recognized testing laboratory.

Never use unlicensed electrical contractors. Baltimore County licenses more than 4,900 electrical contractors who are qualified to serve you.

And of course, install properly working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. The Baltimore County Fire Department offers a Smoke & CO Alarm Education Program that provides personalized guidance on preventing home fire and carbon monoxide incidents. You can request a visit from firefighters through the County web site:

If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 410-887-3960 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Revised September 11, 2017