Howard Council to Consider Raising School Facilities Surcharge on Developers

Howard County Councilmembers Christiana Mercer Rigby and Deb Jung this week pre-filed legislation to raise the School Facilities Surcharge on newly-constructed residential units in Howard County. The Maryland General Assembly this year authorized Howard County to enact a local law that provides for an annual adjustment in the amount of the school facilities surcharge.

“Looking to the future, our public infrastructure projects must be adequately funded in Howard County,” said Mercer Rigby. “We are taking the opportunity to raise the School Facilities Surcharge, bringing Howard County in line with neighboring jurisdictions and funding school construction at the level we need.”

“We need to use every means available to fund school construction,” said Jung. “Howard County has had one of the fastest-growing school systems in the state for the past 10 years, and there is an anticipated shortfall of tens of millions of dollars in capital funding every year. An increase in the School Facilities Surcharge will help fill that gap and provide relief for our overcrowding crisis.”

Chapter 420 of 2004 required the Howard County Council to impose a school facilities surcharge on residential new construction. The surcharge equaled $1.00 per square foot of occupiable area in fiscal 2005 and is adjusted for inflation annually.

The fiscal 2019 Howard County budget assumes a school facilities surcharge rate of $1.32 per square foot and revenues of $7.1 million. Mercer Rigby and Jung’s legislation increases the School Facilities Surcharge to $6.80/square foot. This increase is expected to raise over $150 million in new funding for school construction, renovation, and maintenance over the next 10 years.

According to a press release:

The proposed increase is based on a market-rate analysis of neighboring jurisdictions, as well as the projected capital funding needs of the Howard County Public School System.

“As an educator I understand the importance of a robust education system. I believe this legislation is a necessity for all of Howard County; addressing the increasing problem with overcrowding, deferred school maintenance, and strengthening continuous residential development would increase the school facilities assessed surcharge,” said Dr. Jones. “Moreover, this legislation will provide sufficient assistance to stabilize, enhance, and promote our nationally ranked schools.”

“It’s time for developers to pay their fair share for public facilities, including new seats in schools,” said Walsh. “I thank my colleagues Chair Mercer Rigby and Council Member Jung for their work on this long-overdue legislation.”

As Howard County continues to experience increases in student enrollment each year, these additional capital dollars will address a much-needed deficit in school construction and renovation funding.

This legislation will be co-sponsored by Councilmembers Dr. Opel Jones and Liz Walsh. The proposed legislation was pre-filed on August 23, 2019 and will be introduced at the Council’s legislative session on Tuesday, September 3, 2019. Testimony will be accepted at the legislative public hearing on Monday, September 16, 2019.

Read the full press release for more information.

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