Howard Revenue Shortfall Does Not Deter Budget Requests

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman held his first public budget meeting this week as he begins to prepare his budget for fiscal 2016. With lower than expected revenues, he used the start of the meeting to set budget expectations. As reported by the Baltimore Sun,

Kittleman cautioned that the county would likely have to do some belt-tightening in fiscal year 2016, which runs from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016.

“We’ve been told that our revenues for next year aren’t exactly what we anticipated,” he said.

Kittleman has already instructed county department heads to cut their spending by 5 percent for the rest of fiscal year 2015 to make up for the current budget deficit, which was created by lower-than-expected revenues from this year’s income and recordation taxes. By charter, the county is required to have a balanced budget.

Despite a difficult budget outlook for the current fiscal year and the next, may organizations came in requesting additional funds.

Valerie Gross, CEO of Howard County Public Libraries, said the system would be requesting additional funding in fiscal year 2016 for curriculum needs.

“While we recognize the potential budgetary challenges that you may be facing, our budget represents less than 2 percent of the county’s overall budget; a smart investment for a major return,” Gross said. The library, which last year received $22.3 million in funding from the county, was named Library of the Year by Library Journal in 2013 and is often touted as one of the county’s biggest assets.

Representatives from another of the county’s often-cited top assets, the school system, asked Kittleman for continuing support. Last year, the school board received a record $530.4 million.

Howard Community College President Kathleen Hetherington also pointed to a rapidly expanding student body at the county’s institution for higher education. She requested funding to complete a new science, engineering and technology building for the school, which recently broke ground, as well as funds for additional parking.