Important 2018 Gubernatorial General Election deadlines announced

vote-buttonImportant deadlines for the upcoming 2018 Gubernatorial General Election are approaching. The deadline to register to vote, change party affiliation, update an address, and request an alternate polling place for this election is 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 16, 2018.

To vote in the upcoming primary election, Maryland residents who are eligible to vote but are not yet registered – including 17-year-olds who will be 18 years old on or before the November 6 General Election – must register by 9:00 pm on Tuesday, October 16, 2018. This is also the last day for registered voters to update their address with their local board of elections or change their party affiliation.

Voter Registration, Address Change, Change Party Affiliation

Baltimore County residents with a Maryland driver’s license or MVA-issued ID may register to vote, change their address, or change their party affiliation online at http://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/VoterSearch.

Voters and members of the military, their spouses and dependents who are overseas and who do not have a Maryland driver’s license or MVA-issued ID, may also register or change their address or party affiliation online using different identifying information.

Paper voter registration applications must be hand-delivered or mailed to the Baltimore County Board of Elections, 11112 Gilroy Road, Suite 104, Hunt Valley, MD 21031. A hand-delivered application must be received by the Baltimore County Board of Elections by 9:00 p.m. on October 16, 2018, and a mailed application must be postmarked by October 16, 2018.

Voter registration applications are available throughout Maryland at the following locations:

  • Division of Rehabilitation Services
  • Local boards of elections
  • Local Department of Social Services offices
  • Marriage license bureaus
  • Motor Vehicle Administration offices
  • Offices on Aging
  • Post offices
  • Public institutions of higher education
  • Public libraries
  • Recruitment offices of the U.S. Armed Forces
  • State Board of Elections
  • State Department of Health offices
  • The MTA Paratransit Certification Office

You may also call 1-800-222-8683 to request an application by mail or download and print a voter registration application at: http://elections.maryland.gov/voter_registration/application.html.

Accessible Polling Places

Most of Maryland’s polling places are accessible to voters with disabilities. An elderly voter or a voter with a disability who is assigned to an inaccessible polling place may ask to be reassigned to an accessible polling place. This request must be submitted in writing by 9:00 pm on Tuesday, October 16, 2018. The request form is available online at: http://elections.maryland.gov/pdf/request_for_accessible_polling_place.pdf.

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Voters can also call 1-800-222-8683 to request a form by mail. On receipt of a timely request, the Baltimore County Board of Elections will review the request and determine whether there is an accessible polling place with the same ballot as the voter’s home precinct and notify the voter of the status of his or her request.

To verify voter registration status or to find out if an assigned polling place is accessible, voters may visit: http://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/VoterSearch.

Early Voting

The 2018 Gubernatorial General Election is Tuesday, November 6, 2018. Starting Thursday, October 25 through and including Thursday, November 1, voters may vote in person between 10:00 am and 8:00 pm at the designated early voting center(s) in their county of residence. Information about early voting centers and early voting in general is available at: elections.maryland.gov/voting/early_voting.html

For more information, voters may contact the Baltimore County Board of Elections at 410-887-5700 or the State Board of Elections at 1-800-222-VOTE (8683) or visit http://elections.maryland.gov.

Baltimore County offices and facilities closed for Labor Day holiday

Baltimore CountyBaltimore County government offices, and the District and Circuit Courts will be closed on Monday, September 3, in recognition of the Labor Day holiday.

Health Department clinics and senior centers will be closed and CountyRide vans will not operate. All branches of the Baltimore County Public Library will be closed and parking meters are free on the holiday.

No Trash, Recycling or Yard Materials Collection on September 3; Drop-Off Centers Closed

The impact of holidays varies among Baltimore County collection schedules. County residents should consult their particular collection schedule to see the impact of holidays on when they should set out trash, recycling, and yard materials.

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Collection schedules are available for download on the Bureau of Solid Waste Management’s website and may also be requested by calling 410-887-2000.

Baltimore County offices and trash and recycling drop-off facilities, including Eastern Sanitary Landfill in White Marsh, will be closed on Monday, September 3.

All three drop-off facilities will be open with regular operating hours on Saturday, September 1, and Tuesday, September 4th.

BCPS high school capacity survey extended to July 29

baltimore-county-public-schools-bcpsInterested in how Baltimore County Public Schools will ensure that it has enough high school seats for its growing enrollment? The High School Capacity Study webpage describes various options and strategies under consideration, and stakeholders are invited to share their reactions via an online survey.

The window for participating in the survey has been extended to Sunday, July 29. The survey is available in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

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A second round of public information sessions and a second survey window will take place in September 2018, with dates to be announced. A complete timeline for the study is available, culminating in the presentation of options and strategies to the Board of Education of Baltimore County.

The study is being led by Sage Policy Group, Inc., with support from the Board of Education, Baltimore County Government, and Maryland legislators from Baltimore County.

Email comments may be submitted to highschoolstudy@bcps.org. All email comments received are public record and will be logged and posted to the High School Capacity Study webpage, including names but not email addresses.

Personal information should be avoided (e.g., phone numbers, student names).

Baltimore County offices closed for July 4th holiday

Baltimore CountyHere’s what’s open and what’s not in Baltimore County for the Fourth of July holiday.

Baltimore County government offices, and the District and Circuit Courts will be closed on Wednesday, July 4, in recognition of the Independence Day holiday. Health Department clinics and senior centers will be closed and CountyRide vans will not operate. All branches of the Baltimore County Public Library will be closed on Wednesday, July 4, and parking meters are free on the holiday.

The impact of holidays varies among Baltimore County collection schedules. County residents should consult their particular collection schedule to learn when to set out materials during weeks that contain a collection holiday. Schedules are available for download on the Bureau of Solid Waste Management’s website and may also be requested by calling 410-887-2000.

Collections of all types may occur later than usual during the week following Independence Day. If a collection does not occur on the scheduled day during this period of time, materials should be left out until collection occurs.

Trash and recycling drop-off centers, as well as County offices, will be closed on Wednesday, July 4. Drop-off centers will be open with normal hours on Tuesday, July 3, and Thursday, July 5.

For more information, residents should visit the Bureau of Solid Waste Management’s website or call 410-887-2000.

Baltimore County to raise water, sewer rates on July 1

Baltimore CountyBaltimore County Executive Don Mohler announced on Thursday that the Metropolitan District Charges for water and sewer service will increase on July 1 by an average of 13.9 percent.

While this is the average increase, actual rates will vary. Some will be more, and in some cases, it will be less.

“I recognize that any time government raises a specific charge, it rightly comes under scrutiny,” said Mohler. “I am absolutely convinced that Baltimore County has no choice but to increase water and sewer rates immediately to pay for critical improvements to the water and sewer infrastructure across the County that will prevent water main breaks and raw sewage from pouring into the Chesapeake Bay and leaking into homes.”

Although the County will need to continue to increase rates annually for the next few years to maintain the required funding levels, those increases should level off to approximately 6 percent.

Since 2011, the Baltimore County Government has invested nearly $1.8 billion to upgrade its aging infrastructure. A significant portion of that investment is also going to upgrade sewer infrastructure. This $1.8 billion dollar investment does not include necessary major improvements on the horizon, including the construction of a new Fullerton filtration facility and a rehabilitation of the water filtration plant at Montebello. Costs for these necessary system wide projects will ultimately be shared with the City and other County jurisdictions.

County to Provide Credit

In order to minimize the financial impact of these rate increases, Baltimore County will provide credits for any property owner whose home is assessed by the Maryland State Department of Assessment and Taxation (SDAT) at $250,000 or less, which is 125 percent of the median housing price in Baltimore County. With the applicable credit, nearly 80 percent of County residential property owners will see an increase of no more than $100 for the Combined Sewer Service Charge and Water Distribution Charge.

What is the Metropolitan District?

The Metropolitan District Fund is a self-sustaining fund that is not part of the County’s operating or capital budget. Failure to maintain adequate revenue in the fund to support the County’s construction projects would lead to a downgrade of Baltimore County by the bond rating agencies and the loss of its triple AAA bond rating, costing County taxpayers millions of dollars in increased interest payments and bond debt.

The Metropolitan District sewer and water-operating district was created as a separate and financially self-supporting entity in 1924 under the jurisdiction of the County to supply water and to provide sewerage and drainage systems to residents of the County living within certain prescribed areas. The water system is actually an extension of the Baltimore City system, which draws water from county reservoirs, treats the water, and then returns it to County residents at cost.

The Metropolitan District in Baltimore County consists of 3,151 miles of sewer lines and another 2,108 miles of water lines. Sixty percent of the County’s water and sewer pipes are more than 50 years old, which is the design life span of a water and sewer pipe. More than half of all the County’s pipes were installed before 1970, with the greatest percentage installed in the 1950s.

County users also pay for the County’s portion for the operation of water and sewer treatment facilities located in the City that benefit all users. The Back River Treatment Plant was completed in 1911, and the Patapsco treatment facility became operational in 1940. The City’s Montebello Water Filtration Plant No. 1 was built in 1915, and the Montebello Filtration Plant No. 2 was built in 1928. The City’s Ashburton Water Filtration plant was completed in 1956.

Water Delivery Charges

County property owners receive quarterly water bills from the City of Baltimore. These bills are based upon the amount of water that County property owners use. Baltimore City’s water rates charged to County property owners are increasing by 6 percent beginning July 1, 2018.

Baltimore City has been working to address the issue of incorrect water meter readings, and is making significant progress. While the new electronic meters appear to be generating accurate readings, some property owners may see increased bills, in large part due to the fact that they have actually been undercharged for years. For example, in some cases, the old meter readings often reported low or no water consumption in a home. The new meters are expected to alleviate that issue in the future.

Sewer Service Charges

The sewer service charge is based on a volumetric rate, similar to the water delivery charge. The equation is basically “water in equals water out.” The sewer service charge appears on the County residents’ annual property tax bill in July. Baltimore County sets the sewer service charge rate based upon the readings on the water meters provided by Baltimore City.

Water Distribution Charge

A water distribution charge is placed on every property having a connection with the Metropolitan District’s water and sewer system. The charge pays the expenses of constructing water supply, sewage systems, as well as operating and other expenses such as principal and interest on bonds. The water distribution charge is a fixed rate that does not vary with water usage.

Where do these charges appear?

Four of the Metropolitan District Charges appear on County property tax bills, which arrive approximately July 1. The Water Delivery Charge is billed quarterly by Baltimore City.