- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 7, 2007

ANNAPOLIS — Local officials from across Maryland yesterday pledged to work together to prepare for an influx of workers under the Base Realignment and Closure plan.

At the first meeting of the local government subcommittee of Gov. Martin O'Malley’s BRAC sub-Cabinet, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown asked city and county leaders and state legislators to review local BRAC action plans, identify problems with them and suggest ways the state can help counties and municipalities prepare for BRAC.

“This is only the first phase of what we’re going to be asking you to do,” said Mr. Brown, who leads the sub-Cabinet. “Then the real works begins. That’s when we implement the formal action plan.”

State Sen. Nancy Jacobs, Harford County Republican, said she was pleased that state leaders involved local officials.

“I think what we’re doing now is a very positive step,” she said. “I think we need everybody’s input and I’m glad that they recognized that.”

Mrs. Jacobs sent a letter to Mr. Brown on July 19 demanding more access to the sub-Cabinet meetings after the group went into a closed session following a public meeting in Harford County and did not allow state and local officials to attend. The letter also was signed by state Sens. Andrew P. Harris and J. Robert Hooper, both Harford County Republicans.

BRAC is expected to bring as many as 60,000 jobs to the state by 2011, most of them at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County and Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County.

The sub-Cabinet will deliver a report to Mr. O'Malley, a Democrat, by December with recommendations for budgetary and legislative priorities to prepare for the influx.

Mr. Brown, a Democrat, has stressed a regional approach to eliminate competition among counties for funding. He has urged counties to work together to identify priorities and secure federal funding.

The arrival of the workers is expected to clog roads, crowd schools and strain infrastructure around the military bases where the jobs are concentrated. Cities and counties are seeking state and federal help for road improvements and infrastructure upgrades to prepare.

Maryland’s federal delegation has sought about $20 million in BRAC aid, mostly for transportation. The state has identified $16 billion in BRAC transportation needs, $5 billion in Anne Arundel County alone.

Asuntha Chiang-Smith, executive director of the sub-Cabinet, said the committee was the result of Mr. Brown’s desire to have local involvement in the BRAC process.

“This is really the launching pad and we’re going to have them engaged far after this,” she said. “As people are arriving, we’ll have a better gauge on commuting patterns, on where people choose to live. This is a long-term commitment.”