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Consultant tells Baltimore County how to save hundreds of millions of dollars

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski. Credit: Baltimore County

A consultant’s report is making 171 recommendations Baltimore County could follow that would save it as much as $730 million over five years.

The proposals are wide-ranging. They include making changes in health care for county employees, expanding online courses at the Community College of Baltimore County, reusing porcelain from old toilets for road and sidewalk construction, and growing more wildflowers in medians to cut down on mowing.

The report by Public Works LLC of West Chester, PA finds that the county is already working on 44% of the proposed recommendations.

“For the last two years, Baltimore County government has been undergoing a surge of reinvention and forward progress,” the report notes.

“I’m a firm believer that we’re already on the right track,” County Executive Johnny Olszewski said in an interview. “Obviously there’s more to do and more for us to consider.”

The county paid Public Works LLC $600,000 to conduct the study.

The report is divided into four sections: savings opportunities, needed investments, connected government and management efficiencies.

It suggests ways the county could raise additional money, including charging more for permits and for animal service fees like neutering and spaying.

The study cautions Baltimore County that it is at risk of a cyberattack, like the ones that crippled the school system in November 2020 and struck Baltimore City’s government in 2019.

“Given that the City of Baltimore and BCPS have had the dubious distinction of having been the target of major hacking and cyberattacks, it is very likely that any government agency associated with Baltimore or Baltimore County is high on the ‘radar’ of potential hackers,” according to the report. “The likelihood that another cyberattack will be attempted in the next five years would seem very high.”

Olszewski said, “We are looking at ways to stay on the front end of cybersecurity and this was a timely reminder that we should continue in that push.”

The study recommends that Baltimore County spend more on cybersecurity, which could save money in the long run. As of November, recovery costs from the ransomware attack on the county schools was nearly $10 million.

The county also paid Public Works LLC an additional $600,000 to do an efficiency report on the county schools which was released last September.That was a scathing report that focused on the school system’s inefficiency, the school board’s dysfunction, lack of communication, and low employee morale.