Cassilly Delivers State Of The County Address, Focuses On 2023-2024 Budget
HAVRE DE GRACE - On Tuesday evening, Harford County Executive Bob Cassilly delivered his first State of the County address. The primary focus of the speech was the county’s 2023-2024 budget and how to boost economic development.
“We can all be proud and confident in this county,” Cassilly said. “It’s blessed with a diverse and talented population, a strong public safety team, great schools, a key location, and an abundance of natural resources that make this a wonderful place to call home.”
The address was delivered inside the Harford County Council chamber in front of a standing-room-only crowd featuring many of the county’s top officials. The Harford County Council, Sheriff Jeff Gahler, Superintendent Sean Bulson, UM Upper Chesapeake Health CEO Elizabeth Wise, and Harford Community College President Theresa Felder were all present at the speech.
Cassilly opened his remarks by discussing the state of the county’s economy and a possible recession coming in 2023.
“Our local economy remains strong for now, but many economists predict a recession in 2023,” Cassilly said. “And whether or not we have a recession, inflation is here and has a significant impact on our bottom line.”
The executive described a “structural deficit” in the county’s finances due to the use of federal COVID relief to cover costs since the pandemic.
“My budget reflects an uncomfortable return to responsible financial management,” he said. “We will try to work with everyone to minimize the strains, but structural deficits and excessive long-term debt are unacceptable. That is why I’m setting aside the lion’s share of my time over the next few months to dive into the budget on a line-by-line basis.”
He announced five goals for boosting economic development in Harford County:
- enhancing relationships with the defense community
- standing up business navigators to guide new and expanding businesses
- providing more opportunities for local farmers
- exploring ways to develop local tourism
- increasing opportunities to attract manufacturers and other businesses.
Cassilly also discussed the county’s efforts to recruit more 911 operators, the creation of the Southern County Task Force, and the implementation of the Emergency Services Advisory Board.
Another area of focus for the address was transportation and traffic in the county. The executive announced the creation of a Traffic Division within the Department of Public Works to coordinate with the State Highway Administration (SHA) on transportation issues. Cassilly said that of the 234 traffic signals in Harford County, 93% are owned and managed by the SHA.
The State of the County address will be rebroadcast on HarfordTV at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday.
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