County Track Core Classes
Fellows in the county track complete eight core classes.
- Basics of Risk Management
- Conducting Effective Meetings
- Consensus and Team Building
- County Financial Management
- Employment Issues
- Open Meetings
- Public Information Act
In addition to the eight core classes, County fellows are required to complete six elective classes of their choice. Descriptions of the required core classes are listed below.
Basics of Risk Management
One of the main responsibilities of local governments is to protect its residents from risk to themselves and their property. Risk may result from a number of sources, including fire, crime, automobile accidents, harm to the infrastructure, or as a result of waste disposal. This class is designed to sharpen the awareness of officials that local government activities are subject to risks that may result in significant loss. Through learning about steps to reduce and control loss exposure and tools for identifying hazards, government officials can learn how to avoid the consequences of taking unnecessary risk.
Conducting Effective Meetings
Conducting public business requires managing the issues that come before a public body. Building an agenda, promoting useful discussion, and providing a structure for decision-making are key goals for an effective meeting and for effective public officials. The instructor also covers the proper use of organized rules of order---known as parliamentary procedure---which allow all voices to be heard but with debate that remains focused and civil
Consensus and Team Building
Success in forging good government often comes from reaching compromise and consensus. Sharing ownership of ideas and programs with a broad group of stakeholders can facilitate stronger working relationships that have far-reaching positive effects. This hands-on class features interactive discussion of the essential elements of reaching consensus and team building.
County Financial Management
A challenge faced by new and veteran county officials is understanding and using the government budget process, the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, and other financial documents effectively as tools for setting priorities and managing the government while maintaining the fiscal integrity of the jurisdiction. Fiscal management can be infused with economic assumptions, technical jargon, and a process that seems foreign to the uninitiated. In this class, veteran public administrators discuss the budget process and financial reporting, as well as giving practical tips for county officials.
Building and managing an effective workforce is critical to effective governance. At the same time, government employers face widespread legal restrictions in hiring, firing, promoting, and disciplining employees. The many facets of public employment and the issues often raised by county government officials are discussed.
Ethical dilemmas face county elected officials every day in an atmosphere where public and private actions are increasingly scrutinized. Many ethical challenges facing elected officials are matters of common sense, but more complicated situations may fall into "gray" areas. This class, led by a seasoned expert in government ethics, explores the law, applying it to hypothetical, but realistic situations.
Maryland's Open Meetings Law guides public officials in the requirements for providing public notice of decision-making functions and for closing meetings when appropriate. The law has nuances for different forms of county governments, especially for county commissioners, who act in a dual legislative/executive role. The Open Meetings Law has been revised to better accommodate "administrative functions" and other procedures of governmental bodies. A knowledgeable expert focuses on the law's application to counties, including some of the cases and complaints that have come before the Compliance Board.
Public Information Act
What kind of information should be released to the public upon request? This class helps officials and staff at all levels who must deal with the public by informing them about the requirements of Maryland law on the handling of public records. This class includes real-life scenarios to further illustrate appropriate responses to request from the public or the press.