Dear Queen Anne’s County Citizens
As fall arrives and we are more than halfway through this remarkable year, it is a good time to give our County Citizens an update from our perspective. We are focusing this letter on three areas that have presented the most unique challenges for each of us during the COVID-19 pandemic. These areas include: Finance, Education and Public Health. With six months of experience, the general consequences of the pandemic are more defined that they were in early spring. We are satisfied that our overall expectations are approximately on target. The array of government services and operations are in-line with the adjustments we incorporated for a leaner start into the FY 2021 budget cycle. We remain in a good position to adapt mid-year if circumstances change.
To being with, Queen Anne’s County is in good financial shape. We had anticipated regression and put aside reserves to manage through uncertainties. We went into this downturn with one of the largest (on a percentage basis) reserves to manage through uncertainties. We went into this downturn with one of the largest (on a percentage basis) reserve funds of any County in the State of Maryland. As the economic downturn unfolded, we enacted a hiring freeze for optional vacancies and other cost-cutting measures. The result has been that up to now, we have not needed to access our reserve fund. It has been our strategic plan to handle any recession without a tax increase, layoffs, or loss of services. So far, we are on track to accomplish this objective, and we will continue to do our best to stay on course as the financial situation develops.
To begin with, Queen Anne’s County Education System is always a priority for county citizens. As with everything else in today’s reality, decisions affecting the county school system have been impacted by COVID. We understand that most citizens want the schools to reopen consistent with health and safety. A safe reopening of classroom instruction is also of great importance for the County Commissioners. The Commissioners do not have legal authority over the operations of the school systems, but maintain a strong partnership with the Queen Anne’s County Education Managers, the core group responsible for providing public education. These are elected members of the Board of Education, the Superintendent, and school system’s executive team. The school system is also receiving input from parents, teachers, the State Education Department and State and Local Health Authorities. The Queen Anne’s County Education managers are continuing with their plan to develop and implement a program to provide efficient instruction. The Commissioners are deeply concerned and continue to carefully monitor the situation.
Thanks to great cooperation by the public and business, the COVID-19 situation in this County is very good overall. Our general infection rate is both absolutely and relatively low. Citizens have been conscientious in mask wearing and observing social-distance precautions. A rigorous policy of suppressing points of infection by our Health Authorities, combined with remarkable public cooperation, has led to an impressively good result. It is astonishing to report that at this time, Queen Anne’s County, has a hospitalization rate of 0.09 percent. As of today, only one QAC citizen is hospitalized. That means our base infection rate in the older fraction of the vulnerable public is exceptionally low. We are also very proud of our businesses which have endured shutdowns directly harmful to their existence. Together with careful oversight from our local Health Authorities, safety protocols and procedures are in-place and we are now generally back open for business. Comparing ourselves to other parts of the United States and Maryland, Queen Anne’s County gets an A+ rating. Well done Citizens and Business Leaders!
We are pleased to report that despite national adversities, Queen Anne’s County is overall in excellent condition. The County Commissioners continue to keep close watch over the services and operations for which we are responsible. If circumstances change, we will continue to adapt and keep you informed. We thank you for your great cooperation during this difficult time, and want you to appreciate that community efforts have been successful.
Signed the Queen Anne’s County Board of County Commissioners
James J. Moran, President
Christopher M. Corchiarino
Jack N. Wilson, Jr.
Philip L Dumenil