Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman recently presented to the County Council his $164.7 million Capital Budget and $1.6 billion Operating Budget, for fiscal 2019.
Kittleman’s capital budget continues to support his priorities in education, public safety, transportation, infrastructure and community services. The budget includes $97.4 million from General Obligation (GO) bonds.
The proposed budget includes a one-time boost in county contributions for Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) capital projects to fill the gap created by a $12.3 million decline in state aid.
The proposed HCPSS capital budget totals $63.7 million, including $54.9 million in county and $8.7 million in state funding. County funding consists of $47.9 million in general obligation bonds, an increase of 36.9% from the previous year and the highest level in nearly a decade, along with $7 million in transfer taxes.
Highlights of the fiscal 2019 capital budget include the following.
Education & Opportunity
• $1.1 million for the enhancement of security at school buildings
• $4 million for the completion of Waverly Elementary School renovation/addition
• $8.1 million for the completion of the new Hanover Hills Elementary School
• $4 million for Hammond High School renovation/addition
• $6.7 million for planning and design of the 13th high school
• $2.6 million for Talbott Springs Elementary School renovation/addition
• $9.2 million for completion of the Howard Community College Nursing Building renovation
Transportation & Revitalization
• $1.1 million in county and grant funds for BikeHoward Express network
• $6 million to resurface approximately 36 miles of roads
• $17.1 million for storm drain and stormwater management
• $1 million in county and state funding for Harriett Tubman School Building remediation/restoration
Human Services & Public Safety
• $1.4 million for design and renovation of Florence Bain 50+ Center
• $5.9 million to complete replacement and upgrade of public safety radio system
• $3.4 million for various fire station projects
Recreation & Parks
• $5 million for design and construction of swimming pool at North Laurel Community Center
• $3.2 million in county and program open space funds for construction of Phase III and design of Phase IV at Blandair Park
• $1.5 million to complete construction of synthetic turf stadium field at Troy Park and complete design of the maintenance building
Business & Economic Development
• $3 million for design and building renovations at Gateway Innovation Center
The county council held its most recent Capital Budget work session on April 20. The fiscal 2019 capital budget can be reviewed at www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/County-Administration/Budget.
Kittleman’s Operating Budget for fiscal 2019 continues his focus on education, securing schools, public safety, measures to decrease opioid misuse and support for Howard County’s nonprofits.
The Operating Budget represents a 1.9% increase from last year’s budget. The proposed General Fund Budget, which supports the majority of government services, totals $1.1 billion. Excluding one-time expenses, the General Fund budget represents an increase of $28.5 million (or 2.6%) from fiscal 2018.
In the budget, Kittleman fully funded Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Interim School Superintendent Michael Martirano’s $594.5 million budget request, which is $21.6 million (3.8%) more than fiscal 2018 and $11.4 million above the required Maintenance of Effort (MOE) level. This includes an $11 million, one-time payment to help address the school system’s shortage in its Health Fund, which provides health benefits.
Kittleman also added funding in the Police Department budget to double the number of School Resource Officers (SROs) at the county’s middle schools, and included funds in the Office of Emergency Management budget to assist HCPSS with school safety strategy.
Health and human services initiatives are another emphasis. For the first time, the county is providing operating assistance to Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) to help hire behavioral health navigators and a licensed clinical social worker, and provide incentives for primary care physicians.
In addition, the budget increases the county’s support to HCGH’s capital project by agreeing to provide $5 million during the next five years, starting with $500,000 this year. The money will be used to build a two-story addition that will add 30 inpatient beds, an inpatient psychiatry unit and a short-stay observation unit.
Highlights of the fiscal 2019 operating budget include the following.
• Direct appropriation of $594.5 million to the HCPSS
• More than $67.7 million for debt service payments for school system capital projects and the county’s OPEB contribution for school system retiree benefits
• $35 million for Howard Community College, an increase of $1 million (or 3%)
• $20.9 million for the Howard County Library System, an increase of $628,000 (or 3.1%)
• Continued funding for the Achieve 24/7 initiative for programs aimed at reducing barriers to student success by targeting initiatives that address child mental health, disconnected youth and summer food and enrichment programs
Health & Public Safety
• $500,000 in initial funds toward a $5 million commitment to HCGH’s capital campaign
• $389,000 in operating assistance to HCGH
• $250,000 to Sheppard Pratt Health System for third year of a four-year, $1 million total commitment
• Continued financial support for opioid treatment and recovery efforts
• Funding to hire a behavioral health ombudsman to assist consumers to gain access to affordable behavioral health initiatives
• 37 new positions for Howard County Fire & Rescue Services for firefighters at Lisbon and Downtown Columbia stations, and to increase the number of firefighters assigned to each fire engine throughout the county
• Extended hours at four 50-plus centers; Elkridge, East Columbia, Bain, Ellicott City
• Significant increase to several nonprofits providing services to vulnerable residents — Hopeworks, Bridges to Housing Stability, Community Action Council, Grassroots and FIRN. Also increased funding to the Howard County Arts Council
Infrastructure & Economic Development
• $6 million in PAYGO to continue addressing the backlog of road resurfacing projects
• $1 million for Merriweather Post Pavilion to support the ongoing renovation project
• $400,000 for Howard County Innovation Center for design and marketing
• $150,000 for the pilot Flood Mitigation Assistance Program to help property owners in Valley Mede and Historic Ellicott City
• $95,000 to the University of Maryland Extension staff to hire a full-time 4-H outreach assistant to expand programming and outreach, and a program coordinator position for the Watershed Academy
The county council held its first public hearing on the operating budget on April 25. The fiscal 2019 Operating Budget can be reviewed at www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/County-Administration/Budget.