Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today presented a $1.88 billion fiscal 2022 operating budget to the Howard County Council. County Executive Ball’s budget, a 6.8% increase over fiscal 2021’s budget, holds taxes steady while supporting the County’s collective priorities – including education, pandemic relief, and public infrastructure.
The spending plan includes $632.8 million for Howard County Public Schools (HCPSS), which is $20 million more than the state-mandated Maintenance of Effort (MOE) — the highest amount above MOE in the past seven years. As previously reported on Conduit Street, the budget proposal also includes $10 million in one-time County funding to reduce the HCPSS Health Fund deficit, potentially allowing for the elimination of the deficit by the end of 2022.
The proposed budget also uses $59.1 million in fund balance from prior surplus to support one-time initiatives, including $30.3 million for critical infrastructure efforts like road resurfacing, the Ellicott City Safe and Sound Plan, the East Columbia 50+ Center expansion, school site acquisition, repairing deteriorating sidewalks, and road construction.
As previously reported on Conduit Street, County Executive Ball’s budget includes $3.8 million for the implementation of a body-worn camera program. The program is slated to include the Howard County Police Department, Sheriff’s Office, and staffing needs for the State’s Attorney’s Office.
According to a County press release:
“Through careful planning and thoughtful discussions, we’ve created our largest operating budget to date, with no tax increases for our residents or businesses,” said County Executive Ball. “This balanced budget provides broad-based support for our priorities, and directs one-time savings towards critical public infrastructure, such as road resurfacing, repairing sidewalks, and flood mitigation projects. Education is still our top priority, with historically high funding to the school system, community college, and library system. This budget also includes record-high funding for special education. Despite the fiscal challenges amid the pandemic, this budget funds our strategic priorities while continuing the strong fiscal discipline that recently earned the County its 24th consecutive AAA bond rating.”