The Howard County Council yesterday approved the County’s fiscal 2022 operating and capital budgets. The spending plan provides historically high funding to the school system, community college, and library system. Through funding for non-profits, businesses, and public health efforts, the budget also reflects the County’s continued commitment to an equitable post-pandemic recovery.
The Council approved $640.8 million for the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS), which represents a $20.5 million increase over last year’s budget and exceeds the Maintenance of Effort by $10.5 million, marking the largest increase over MOE in seven years.
The County will use $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.
“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 Calvin 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.”
The budget includes $1.1 million in pandemic relief for non-profits to support ongoing pandemic needs such as rent, utility, mortgage, and food assistance to support residents struggling in the wake of the public health crisis. The spending plan also includes $1 million to provide affordable capital for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
The County is providing $1 million to support the Health Department’s ongoing pandemic response. The funding provides support for potential COVID-19 booster vaccinations, initial COVID vaccinations for children under 12 years old, and mitigation of COVID-19 and its variants in the fall and winter months.
“As we turn the corner on this pandemic, on the road to recovery together, this budget is vital to move Howard County into the future,” said County Executive Ball. “I remain committed to working with the members of our Council, residents, stakeholders, and all members of our community to ensure that our government provides the best services possible and a high quality of life for all Howard County residents.”
As previously reported on Conduit Street, the budget also includes funding for the implementation of a body-worn camera program. The program, which will be fully funded by the spring of fiscal 2022, is slated to include the Howard County Police Department, Sheriff’s Office, and staffing needs for the State’s Attorney’s Office.
The budgets go into effect on July 1, 2021.
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