Howard Budget Proposal Largest Ever, Keeps Taxes Steady

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has announced his FY 2019 budget proposal. The Baltimore Sun notes that not only is it the largest budget proposal ever for the county, it does not raise property taxes keeping them steady at $1.014.

Highlights from a Howard County press release:

The FY 2019 Operating Budget represents a 1.9 percent 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 percent – over FY 2018.

“This budget demonstrates a commitment to our priorities, particularly to education and the needs of the most vulnerable in our community,” said Kittleman. “Despite a year of financial uncertainty brought about by changes to the federal tax plan, we have continued to fund our priorities and maintain the level of services that our residents rely on, without an increase in tax rates.”

Education

  • Direct appropriation of $594.5 million to the Howard County Public School System, which is $21.6 million more than last year and $11.4 million above the required Maintenance of Effort (MOE) level.
  • 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 3.0 percent).
  • $20.9 million for the Howard County Library System, an increase of $628,000 (or 3.1 percent).
  • 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 and 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 gain access to affordable behavioral health initiatives.
  • 37 new positions for Howard County Fire and 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 + centers — Elkridge, East Columbia, Bain, Ellicott City.
  • Significant increase to several non-profits providing services to vulnerable residents – Hopeworks, Bridges to Housing Stability, CAC, Grassroots, FIRN. Also increase funding to the Arts Council.

Infrastructure and 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 a 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.

For more information:

Executive Kittleman presents operating budget for Fiscal Year 2019 to County Council (Howard County)

Howard executive’s budget plan holds tax rate, meets a school budget request (The Baltimore Sun)

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