- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
St. Maryís County was the ninth-fastest growing community of its type in the United States last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Itís the latest ranking culled from census data that portrays St. Maryís as a place on the move. Earlier this year St. Maryís, was listed as 14th wealthiest county in the nation as judged by median household income. Late last year it was tagged as the richest community of its type for the same reason.
So what does ďcommunity of its typeĒ mean? All of St. Maryís is part of what the Census Bureau calls the Lexington Park Micropolitan Area. A micropolitan area has an urban core with a population of between 10,000 and 50,000 people, where most people donít commute out of the area for work.
To sum it all up, the data shows St. Maryís is a prosperous, fast-growing community where most people donít have to drive for hours to earn a good paycheck.
The St. Maryís County commissioners donít like hearing about the high median income, since the robust tax revenue it brings makes it harder to say no to those who come to them for more funding for schools or other services.
But the commissioners should be paying attention to the news that St. Maryís is the ninth-fastest growing micropolitan area in the nation. The population of St. Maryís grew by 2.2 percent between July 1, 2010, and July 1, 2011, the Census Bureau reports. Thatís 2,333 more people living here.
It is the responsibility of the commissioners to plan for this growth, and to their credit they have done that in some important ways.
They are on board to pay their share to build a new elementary school in Leonardtown, and have included money in their planned capital budget next year to buy a site for another new school.
They have agreed, or at least a majority of them have, to push forward to connect the disjointed pieces of FDR Boulevard to serve the neighborhoods and shopping centers that line Route 235 between Patuxent River Naval Air Station and Route 4. This should provide some traffic relief for commuters on Route 235 as well.
The Census Bureau doesnít connect the dots, but it stands to reason that there is a correlation between the high average incomes and the number of people moving into St. Maryís. With the nation still slowly crawling out of a crippling recession, St. Maryís is an island of economic good news, fueled by the work at Pax River and the economic spin-off throughout the community.
Acknowledging that good fortune does not translate to encouragement for county government to go on a wild spending binge. That would be reckless and out of character for how local government has operated here for generations.
The call instead is for St. Maryís County to press forward to build the infrastructure and offer the services a growing and prosperous community expects and will need; to make decisions based not on ideology but on that local reality.
St. Maryís is in a position that many communities around the country would envy. There is no harm and much pragmatic benefit to acknowledging that.