Montgomery County has been recognized with three Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo). The awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.
Each year, NACo’s Achievement Awards are given in 18 categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice and public safety, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and more. Launched in 1970, the program is designed to recognize innovation in county government. Each nominated program is judged on its own merits and not against other applications.
In 2023, Montgomery County earned NACo awards for the following three programs.
Animal Care and Adoption Center: Surgical Wing
In September 2022, the Montgomery County Animal Care and Adoption Center (ACAC) partnered with the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine (VMCVM) to help make necessary treatment and surgery for animals a little easier, as well as beneficial for all involved.
Students at the VMCVM now provide free medical exams, surgeries and treatments for cats and dogs at the ACAC. This allows the VMCVM students to practice hands-on experience in a shelter environment as they care for animals under the supervision of two veterinarians and one licensed veterinary technician. This also allows the animals to receive care at the ACAC instead of undergoing the stress of being transported to and from local veterinary clinics. Finally, this allows employees of the ACAC to spend time working on-site instead of scheduling and transporting stressed animals between the ACAC and area veterinary clinics.
Since September 2022, 290 surgeries have been conducted at the ACAC by supervised VMCVM students. In addition, the cost to Montgomery County for each surgery is now approximately $28. Prior to the surgical suite opening at the ACAC, the average cost to Montgomery County for spay and neuter surgery was $68 for cats and $83 for dogs.
Planning and GIS: Wetland Mitigation Project: Crab Creek
In 2021, Montgomery County was approached with a proposal to create a wetland mitigation bank project. This mitigation bank would be the first such project in the New River Watershed. Unfortunately, this use was not defined in the County’s Zoning Ordinance. Staff began to perform substantial research on how other localities throughout Virginia regulated wetland mitigation bank projects. Eventually, an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance allowing mitigation bank use in the County was presented to the local governing body.
Following the amendment approval in the spring of 2021, staff began working with an applicant on a wetland mitigation project in 2022. The request was to expand an existing mitigation bank to include an additional five acres and to restore 4,000 linear feet of Crab Creek. In doing so, an increased number of tax credits would be available for sale throughout the watershed and the area would be protected in perpetuity.
Not only did this particular applicant benefit from an approved application, future developers and businesses have the potential to also benefit from available tax credits should their application be approved. These credits are vital to area developers as Montgomery County is one of the fastest growing localities in Virginia.
County Administration: Employee Engagement Committee
The Employee Engagement Committee (EEC) was formed in November 2021 to begin planning for 2022. The purpose of the EEC is to provide opportunities for all Montgomery County employees, regardless of their physical location, to have fun and engaging opportunities with zero strings attached. Employees from various offices and departments are represented on the committee.
The EEC plans and coordinates activities, programs, and events for all Montgomery County employees. Fostering an organizational culture of teamwork through workplace engagement opportunities motivates employees and creates an unparalleled sense of comradery. In 2022, the EEC planned 18 activities and events for employees.
Anecdotally, employees have shared how much they appreciate the working environment at Montgomery County. A testament to this is the fact that employees from offices and departments who previously did not participate in the few sporadic County-planned events prior to the creation of the EEC now participate, as well as provide good feedback on ideas for future engagement activities.