Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman presented the county’s annual State of the County address on Thursday, February 18 reflecting on a year of “rethinking”.
Coverage from The Baltimore Sun states,
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman laid out a vision that will guide what he said has been a year of “rethinking, rebuilding, reorganizing and restructuring.”
“The state of our county is strong. Maintaining that strength will depend on how we manage the challenges we face. I am confident that we are on the right track,” Kittleman said to a 450-member audience at a ticketed event sponsored by the Howard County Chamber of Commerce. He delivered his second public address Thursday evening to an audience of less than 100 at the county’s headquarters.
Echoing his first address — which laid out a vision to “build a model sustainable community” — Kittleman announced new community and economic projects, including the expansion of MedStar Health’s headquarters in Downtown Columbia, the creation of a nonprofit center in collaboration with the Department of Social Services and nonprofit organizations, a pilot program to evaluate body cameras for officers and building a new circuit courthouse.
Kittleman’s financial forecast was cautiously optimistic. Although the economy will continue to improve, “the days of substantial revenue increases and large surpluses are over,” Kittleman said.
Looking back to the fiscal year 2016 budget — which passed by the first unanimous budget vote in eight years — Kittleman said he will “proceed with caution” this budget season in order to ensure the county is “living within its means.”
“We are in an enviable position in Howard County,” Kittleman said. “Our unemployment rate is the lowest in the state at 3.8 percent. Our median income is among the highest. Our commercial vacancy rates are low and our commercial tax base grew by $180 million last year.”
In his speech, Kittleman described a four-pronged plan that would focus on targeting community services; an open and efficient government; revitalization and infrastructure; and education and economic development.
Applauding the Police Department, Kittleman said the county’s push to combat human trafficking is having an impact. The county recently created a dedicated account to fund victims’ services and police training and secured a second full-time officer to investigate cases. He also emphasized efforts to improve mental health services, including the addition of a behavioral health specialist to help the Health Department’s Community Care Teams.
To read the full article about Kittleman’s State of the County address, visit The Baltimore Sun online.