Kittleman Addresses Proposed Changes to Maryland Transportation Project Policy
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has issued the following statement regarding proposed changes to Maryland Transportation Project Policy.
“Senate Bill 908 politicizes and complicates the Consolidated Transportation Plan (CTP) and the Maryland Transportation Plan. This proposed legislation adds additional bureaucratic layers to an already complex process. Instead of encouraging transparency, it clouds the process and inserts partisan politics. I can’t state strongly enough that this legislation would negatively impact the process and the ability for counties to get the support they need for transportation priorities.
“I am particularly concerned that this bill would adversely impact the long awaited improvements to Route 32 in Howard County.”
Kittleman also said the current process is thorough, effective and requires ample evaluation. He pointed to the following passage from testimony opposing the bill from the Maryland Department of Transportation.
“Maryland’s current CTP process utilizes a combination of public, local and state government input, the goals of the Maryland Transportation Plan, and strategic advancement of state-identified economic and smart-growth development planning. The CTP Prioritization Process is inclusive and transparent and has been in place for 40 years.”
Four Emerging Tech Companies Receive AAEDC’s VOLT Fund Loans
The Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation (AAEDC) announced that four early-stage technology companies in central Maryland have been approved for a total of $800,000 in loans through its VOLT Fund. Awardees include two Anne Arundel County companies, Appian Medical and Vixiar Medical; Grip Boost, a member company at bwtech@UMBC incubator; and Baltimore City-based Vasoptic Medical.
The VOLT Fund, managed by AAEDC, received a $1.8 million allotment in 2015 from the Maryland Small, Minority and Women-Owned Business Investment Fund. The state’s fund is supported by 1.5% of video lottery terminal revenue generated by Maryland’s five casinos. Besides loans to conventional businesses, AAEDC’s VOLT Fund has a set-aside for entrepreneurs of innovative technology. Since the inception of the program in 2013, AAEDC has conducted three technology loan application rounds, allocating more than $2.4 million to 13 early stage companies in Maryland.
“For pre-revenue emerging technology companies that have created a product, but have not yet brought it to market, the VOLT Fund provides tremendous support to allow these businesses to take their next step in growth,” said Robert Hannon, CEO and president of the AAEDC. “By offering patient capital to these companies that are at such a critical phase, the VOLT Fund plays an important role in Maryland’s innovation ecosystem.”
The awards are offered as a long-term loan until the company experiences a liquidity event. A liquidity event is defined as an acquisition, investment from venture capital/angel investors or private equity firms in the amount of four times of the original loan made by the fund, or an initial public offering (IPO).
Ruppersberger: ‘About Time’ U.S. CyberCommand Joins Fight Against ISIS
Congressman C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger has issued the following statement in response to media reports that the U.S. CyberCommand has joined the fight against the Islamic State.
“It’s about time we unleash the full cyber capabilities of our U.S. military on ISIS. I could not be more proud of the work being done at Fort Meade — in my district — to help bring them down.
“As we all know, ISIS continues to terrorize innocent civilians around the world. They are a unique threat because they are not only barbaric, but very well-organized and well-funded. We must use every resource available to take them out once and for all.
“Those resources include bombs and missiles but also state-of-the-art cyber weapons that can cripple ISIS’ communications infrastructure without the risk of collateral damage. As the Secretary of Defense recently acknowledged, the CyberCommand was established at Fort Meade six years ago for this very purpose.
“Cyberspace is the new battle frontier. ISIS itself employs hackers who have even commandeered the social media accounts of the U.S. Central Command. I proudly endorse these efforts and all efforts to strengthen the skills of our cyber warriors.”
Arundel Council Approves Schuh’s Fee Cut Legislation
The Anne Arundel County Council has approved County Executive Steve Schuh’s legislation to reduce and eliminate unnecessary fees on citizens and small businesses. The legislation approved by the council reduces and eliminates three county fees, including measures that accomplish the following:
- Reduce the cost of a county dog license from $10 and $4 to $5 and $2 to encourage pet adoption.
- Eliminate the county spay and neuter fee charged by Animal Control to encourage responsible pet ownership.
- Eliminate the fee for a certificate of occupancy permit for businesses and homes.
The fee reduction effort began in November when Schuh proposed the largest fee cut in county history, a $125 million, 30% reduction in the capital facility connection charge, a utility fee charged to connect to water and sewer. This final legislation was approved by the council in January.
In February, Schuh reduced the Department of Aging’s Senior Center Plus Program Fee by 50% to make services more affordable for county seniors. The program provides increased services for seniors by helping with lunch trays, reserving van rides and helping seniors get to classes or activities.
Bill Introduced to Stimulate Economic Development Via Historic Properties
U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have introduced bipartisan legislation (S2655) that would encourage economic development and job growth across the country by making enhancements to the federal Historic Tax Credit (HTC). Projects that receive credits under the Historic Tax Credit Improvement Act help revitalize communities, encourage private investment and create safer, more secure neighborhoods.
“We can create jobs by preserving the abundant history in Maryland and across America. Improving the Historic Tax Credit will save many historically significant buildings and homes nationwide while creating quality jobs, stimulating long-term economic growth and bringing life to forgotten neighborhoods,” said Cardin, a member of the Senate Finance Committee. “The Historic Tax Credit has created [more than] 2 million jobs nationwide since 1978. By updating the program and expanding it to reach additional projects, especially in small and rural communities, we can create thousands of jobs renovating historic properties and working in many of the restored, modernized buildings.”
Since its creation, the HTC program has generated $78 billion in historic preservation activity to rehabilitate more than 41,250 historic properties, including the creation of more than 525,000 housing units, of which approximately 150,000 are low- and moderate-income units. Historic preservation programs have created more than 2.36 million jobs nationwide since 1978 (85,058 new jobs in fiscal 2015). A recent study by the National Trust for Historic Preservation estimates that every $1 of credits generates a minimum of $4 of private sector investment.
In Maryland, the federal HTC has supported hundreds of projects that have spurred economic growth in communities around the state, ranging from the development of a multicultural service center to affordable housing units for teachers and office space for nonprofit educational organizations.
Congress created historic preservation tax benefits in 1976 to encourage voluntary, private-sector investment in preserving historic buildings. The program is jointly managed by the National Park Service (NPS) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), in partnership with State Historic Preservation Offices.
Kittleman Announces Annual Bond Sale, Savings to Taxpayers of $2.3M
Howard County recently conducted its annual bond sale, offering Consolidated Public Improvement Bonds (CPI) and Metropolitan District Bonds via competitive bidding. In large part due to the county’s Triple-A credit rating, its bonds are highly valued, and in all, 10 bidders made offers to purchase the bonds.
“Despite limited revenue growth, we’ve been able to make budget decisions that are sustainable and enable us to maximize taxpayer dollars by getting very low interest rates for our bonds,” said Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman. “This means county taxpayers will pay less for needed capital improvements and to improve our infrastructure.”
Kittleman’s $331 million fiscal 2016 capital budget included funding for school construction and significant investments in public safety, parks and infrastructure projects such as replacing aging water and sewer service.
“There is a second piece of good news in this sale,” said County Finance Director Stan Milesky. “By selling refunding bonds on previously issued debt, we will reduce the long-term interest cost to county taxpayers by $2.3 million.”
The bond sale exceeded the county’s pre-sale projections and included the following:
- An accepted offer to purchase $96,040,000 in CPI Project and Refunding Series A Bonds (which included a $74,760,000 new money issuance and $21,280,000 refunding issuance) from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, at a True Interest Cost of 2.51%;
- An accepted offer to purchase $1,730,000 in CPI Series B Bonds from Raymond James & Associates, at a True Interest Cost of 1.97%;
- An accepted offer to purchase $26,190,000 in Metropolitan District Project and Refunding Bonds (used to finance water and sewer system improvements, which included a $21,720,000 new money issuance and a $4,470,000 refunding issuance) by Morgan Stanley & Co., at a True Interest Cost of 3.06%.
Anne Arundel County Launches Historic Preservation Tax Credit
Anne Arundel County has announced the launch of a newly created Historic Preservation Tax credit. The credit establishes “landmark” buildings and districts and provides a property tax credit in the amount of 25% of qualified expenses for certain historic residential or income-producing properties, or 5% for a qualified new construction in a Landmark Historic District.
The credit helps offset expenses related to rehabilitation of historic landmarks in the county and brings Anne Arundel County on par with its neighboring jurisdictions, several of which have offered local tax credits encouraging historic preservation for many years. The maximum amount of the tax credit is $50,000, which can be claimed during a five-year period. “This credit helps preserve the character of our communities by giving historic property owners a helpful tool to restore their property,” said Councilman Chris Trumbauer, sponsor of the bill.
For a property to qualify, the Office of Planning and Zoning must certify the building or historic district meets the criteria detailed in the legislation to be determined a county “historic landmark,” such as the structure’s age, its significance to county history and the physical integrity of its historic form.
Applications are being accepted for qualifying properties. The program will be implemented by the Cultural Resources Division. For more details on the Historic Preservation Tax Credit, including application forms, qualifying properties and qualifying types of work, visit www.aacounty.org/departments/planning-and-zoning/cultural-resources or contact Cultural Resources staff at 410-222-7432 for more information.
BWI Marshall Started ’16 With New January Record
After a new, all-time annual record for passenger traffic in 2015, BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport reported that 1,619,713 passengers traveled through the airport in January. That figure, an increase of 6.7% over January 2015, was a new January record for passenger traffic. January 2016 was the seventh-straight monthly record for passenger traffic. A record-setting 23.8 million passengers traveled through the airport in 2015.
International passenger traffic again helped lead the growth, climbing 30% to nearly 100,000 passengers. A major capital improvement, the D/E Connector program, is underway in order to add international capacity and provide new passenger amenities. Condor and WOW air have announced plans to increase BWI Marshall international service in 2016. In August, British Airways will begin using the upgraded 787-8 aircraft on its route between BWI Marshall and London Heathrow.
A number of BWI Marshall airlines experienced growth for the month of January, including Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and Spirit Airlines.
Maryland Live Launches Free-to-Play Live! Social Casino
Maryland Live! Casino has launched the next generation of its online games, offering Live! Social Casino, an interactive entertainment experience that borrows heavily from the success of social casinos worldwide.
The experience is a cross between a free play website, which offers players free online gaming entertainment; and a “freemium” social casino with multi-player games, tournaments, leaderboards and achievements. The social casino is also available as an app, downloadable from the App Store and Google Play, supporting most popular mobile devices worldwide. The Live! Social Casino is free-to-play and is accessible to anyone 21 years old or older.
Live! Social Casino includes a portfolio of slot and table games, tournaments with action leaderboards and numerous ongoing promotions, which give away free credits. New registrants can now receive 5,000 free virtual credits on completion of the full sign-up process. Once credits are depleted, players have the opportunity to purchase more.
Players do not have to be a Live! Rewards Club member to play; however, Live! Rewards members who link their card account to the new social account will be rewarded with a 10% rebate on any purchases made in the social casino. All games are configured as they would be at Maryland Live! to ensure players get the same experience when playing their favorite game online as they do on the casino floor.
Force 3 Acquired by Sirius Computer Solutions
Sirius Computer Solutions, a national information technology solutions integrator, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the network security company Force 3, of Crofton. The acquisition allows Sirius to expand its security and networking solution offerings in the mid-Atlantic region and federal marketplace.
Founded in 1991 by Rocky Cintron, Force 3 has evolved from a PC and networking reseller to a federal engineering and solutions provider, focused on security and networking solutions, with several hundred active clients and approximately 170 employees.
“Combining forces with Sirius helps Force 3 take the next step in accelerating our vision. Together, we will extend our geographic reach, solution offerings and networking capabilities in an industry that is very dynamic and fast-paced,” said Mike Greaney, CEO at Force 3. “Our mutual clients — including one of the most important clients in the world, the U.S. government — will benefit from Sirius’s expertise and depth of services offerings made available to them through partnerships with the best supplier partners in the industry.”
Force 3 will continue to operate as a separate legal entity, retaining the Force 3 name as “A Sirius Computer Solutions Company.” This is the fourth major acquisition Sirius has made during the past 18 months, including Carolinas-based Varrow Inc., a portion of Avnet Inc.’s digital software solutions and services in 2015 and Brightlight Consulting in late 2014.