Billions in County Funding Excluded from “Sanctuary” Order Provision

An update from the National Association of Counties provides the details in a California court case and how it affects counties nationwide.

A federal district judge granted a national preliminary injunction against the Trump Administration’s January 25th Executive Order’s sanctuary penalties. In additional, statements made during oral argument have indicated that the sanctuary penalties would be limited to affecting only certain grant programs.

Screenshot 2017-04-26 16.17.45From the National Association of Counties:

. . . the January 25 Executive Order on Interior Enforcement, and specifically its “sanctuary jurisdictions” provision, was challenged in federal court shortly after its signing. Late yesterday, a federal district judge granted a national preliminary injunction against the order’s sanctuary penalties in a joint ruling addressing complaints from San Francisco and Santa Clara County, Calif.

The Department of Justice’s statements in oral argument indicated that the executive order applies only to the three federal grants that have some existing requirement of compliance with 8 U.S.C. 1373. Those are:

  1. Byrne JAG grants,
  2. SCAAP, and the
  3. COPS program.

According to NACo’s coverage, the court stated that,

“[DOJ] disavowed any right through the [executive order] for the government to affect any other part of the billions of dollars in federal funds the counties receive each year.”

NACo also predicts that the appeals in this case could mean that it continues to be litigated for years. As reported by NACo,

The Administration can appeal this order for a preliminary injunction, or wait for a ruling from this court on the merits of the case. In either scenario, an appeal to the court’s rulings would be heard by the Ninth Circuit, and if there are further appeals, by the Supreme Court. This morning, President Trump expressed his intention to appeal this case to the Supreme Court if necessary, although it was unclear whether such an appeal would relate to the preliminary injunction ruling or an upcoming ruling on the merits of the case.

For more information, read the court’s preliminary injunction.

 

Deadline Set for Administration’s Decision in Federal Overtime Lawsuit

A Federal Court of Appeals grants the Trump Administration until June 30th to determine whether to continue defending a lawsuit that challenges an Obama-era regulatory expansion.

A federal court of appeals has granted the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) its third extension in defending a lawsuit challenging new Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime regulations according to the HR Daily Advisor.

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Commissioner Tipton of Mineral County, Nevada testifies in Congress on the new Department of Labor overtime rule.

The National Association of Counties has advocated against the new regulations, with county officials testifying that the costly changes could negatively affect the ability of county governments to provide key services.

As reported by the HR Daily Advisor,

A lower court temporarily enjoined the rule last year and the Obama administration appealed that order. Now, the Trump administration must decide whether to continue with that defense.

Citing lack of leadership—specifically, a secretary of labor—the DOL has now requested and received three delays, giving it until June 30 to make a decision.

 

As described by HR Daily Advisor,

The rule, which was scheduled to take effect December 1, 2016, would have required employers to pay overtime to employees earning less than $913 per week (which amounts to $47,476 annually). The change would have more than doubled the existing threshold.

States and business groups challenged the rule in court and a federal district court judge granted a preliminary injunction, temporarily halting the rules just days before their effective date.

For more information, see 3rd Delay: Trump’s DOL to Address Overtime Rule by June 30 from the HR Daily Advisor.

 

For prior coverage, see these posts on Conduit Street:

Wicomico County’s Budget Proposal Benefits from Real Property Base

Wicomico County Executive Culver has presented his proposed operating budget to the County Council.

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Wicomico County’s proposed operating budget total is a 6.2% increase over the current year’s budget. 

As described in the Wicomico County Budget proposal, a continued increase in the County’s net assessable real property base and a positive trend in employment support county investments in services, while allowing the county to maintain current tax rates.

Here are a few highlights from the budget as described in the budget summary and as reported by the Salisbury Independent:

Total Operating Budget

  • “The budget formally presented Tuesday to the County Council totals $143.7 million, a 6.2 percent increase over the current year’s budget of $135.2 million,” according to the Independent.

Education Funding

  • The budget satistifies the maintenance of effort requirement for the county, including an increaseof more than $1 million required by the maintenance of effort escalator.

Taxes

  • Tax rates remain unchanged in the proposed budget.

Government Employee Salaries

  • Eligible employees will receive a 2% COLA and Communications Operators will receive a salary increase.

For more information, see Culver unveils $143.7 million spending plan from the Salisbury Independent and the proposed operating budget for Wicomico County.

Howard County’s Proposed Budget ‘Holds the Line’ on Taxes

Howard County Executive Kittleman has presented his proposed operating budget to the County Council.

Here are a few highlights of the budget from the budget summary document.

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Howard County’s $1.58 billion proposed budget maintains tax rates while providing extra funding for education.

Total Operating Budget

  • “$1.58 billion, a 5.6 percent growth from last year’s budget. . . Excluding one-time resources (use of prior fund balance for one-time expenses), the proposed General Fund budget represents an increase of $39.3 million, or 3.7 percent over FY 2017.”

 

Education Funding

  • “This proposed budget includes a $572.2 million direct appropriation for HCPSS, $10 million higher than prior year and $2.3 million above the required Maintenance of Effort (MOE) level.”

Taxes

  • “As with the Capital Budget, this budget was carefully prepared to address our residents’ priorities and our county’s challenges while holding the line on taxes and incorporating a fiscally prudent approach.”

Government Employee Salaries

  • “This budget provides funding for a well-deserved cost of living increase and step increments for general county employees and for negotiated salary increases for employees covered by collective bargaining agreements. The budget also continues our effort to convert contingent employees who work full-time hours to full-time positions with full benefits. To date, we have converted 49 positions and the FY 2018 budget will continue that effort.”

For more information, see the entire proposed operating budget for Howard County.

Conduit Street Q&A with 2016 MACo President John Barr


The Conduit Street Q&A is our opportunity to get closer to the policymakers and public leaders who affect Maryland and its counties. We’ll ask questions about the person, the policy, and the politics – and let their answers bring you valuable insights on the biggest issues of today and tomorrow.

This week, we catch up with Washington County Commissioner & 2016 MACo President John Barr.


MACo: Commissioner Barr, this exchange feels a little formal for someone who has become such a part of the MACo “family,” but we thought it would be good for readers – including those who don’t know you – to hear a bit about the role as MACo President and what you brought to it. Thanks for joining us.

So, we’d like to start before your time with MACo. You’ve been in private business for years, but pretty engaged in the community. What got you interested in civic life, and giving back to the local community?

Barr: I became active in civic life at a young age. I can still remember delivering vegetables and sweet corn alongside my Grandfather in the east side of Hagerstown when I was a teenager. Later, when I joined the family business, serving the community and giving back to others was a key component of our work to be a good corporate citizen.

MACo: And you found that type of engagement rewarding?

Yes. In fact, when I look back, many of my greatest and fondest memories are serving on the Boards of the Salvation Army, Goodwill Industries, Habitat for Humanity, and numerous charitable organizations that benefit our community.

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Commissioner Barr and his wife pose for a family portrait with their grandchildren.

MACo: Years ago, you also decided to run for office. What made you step over the line from community involvement to politics?

Barr: Well, having been involved in the community, I was appointed to the Washington County Election Board of Examiners and Supervisors in the early 2000’s. On the Election Board, I especially enjoyed helping enfranchise senior citizens through absentee and provisional ballots. Once I visited a gentlemen that was over 100 years of age and had voted in every election since 1920.

MACo: So, it was through your participation in the Election Board that your were tempted to run for election yourself?

In a way, yes. After serving four and a half years on the Election Board, I was bit by the political bug and I decided to enter the race for County Commissioner. My campaign netted the most votes in the race, meaning I also became the President of the Board of County Commissioners in my first year in office.

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Barr, pictured here with his son Jonny, is the President of Ellsworth Electric, a family-owned business with a long history in Washington County.

MACo: Your first run for office was a bit tumultuous. Care to share?

Barr: By the time I ran for public office, I had served on many Boards and participated in several community-interest projects. The time I’d spent in the public eye led my opponents to say I was using money, power, and influence to run my campaign. This was difficult, but then in the height of campaign season, I had another challenge to surmount, this time a physical one: I hit a deer while riding my motorcycle and sustained multiple injuries.

MACo: That must have been a shock. . . How did you manage your campaign following the accident?

Well, I kept going. Less than a week following the accident, which had me in the hospital for five days, I was sitting on a stage of potential candidates with a head full of staples and stitches, two black eyes, and a broken shoulder. I will never forget one of the incumbent candidates asking me what I was doing there. I replied that serving the people and representing our community was not a job for the faint of heart.

John F. Barr, far left, served for more than ten years on the Washington County Board of County Commissioners.

MACo: That was quite a start to your political career!…So now that you’ve been in office for ten years plus, worked with three Board of County Commissioners, and have seen lots of things come and go in Washington County. What are some things you are most proud of back home?

Barr: Looking back over more than 10 years as a Commissioner, there are highs and lows, joys and disappointments. The biggest reward has been working with the many fine, talented individuals Washington County government. I have also developed rewarding relationships, and found opportunities for growth and personal development on each Board of County Commissioners that I have served.

MACo: Any particular projects that standout?

Yes, I see bringing major employers, such as Potomac Edison, back to Hagerstown and Washington County as achievement. Enhancing relationships with the City of Hagerstown, eight other municipalities, the school board, the sheriff’s office and others is another tremendous accomplishment. These advances make Washington County a better place to work, live, and play.

MACo: Okay, now a bit selfishly we’d like to turn to MACo. After serving a while in county government, you started coming to MACo Legislative Committee meetings, and soon after that got elected to the Board of Directors. What did you find in MACo that was worthwhile?

Barr: Through MACo, I met new colleagues from across the State of Maryland. I found the diversity of county elected officials exciting, and I began to see MACo as a way to serve in a new, broader capacity.

MACo: Tell us more about your first impressions, what was it like to start attending MACo meetings as a newcomer?

I will never forget arriving at MACo for my first meeting: everyone asked me where I spent the night because in their opinion it was impossible to travel from Hagerstown to Annapolis for a 10 a.m. meeting without coming the day before. Truth be told, prior to even leaving Hagerstown that morning I spent an hour at my private business and an hour at county offices, and I was still in Annapolis with time to spare!

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Cutting the ribbon to the exhibitor hall at MACo’s Summer Conference. Commissioner Barr’s tenure as President was a period of growth for MACo’s corporate partnerships.

MACo: Little did you know how often you’d be making the trip in the future…You took the reins as MACo President in 2016, and on top of the many trips to Annapolis during that year, one of your first goals was to get out to visit every county before the Summer Conference. Why was that important to you?

Barr: Coming from a county on the westernmost corner of the State, I was eager to reach out to all county governments, and Baltimore City. Prioritizing the visits allowed me to continue MACo’s role in developing relationships between county elected officials statewide. Accomplishing all of the visits before the MACo Summer Conference set the stage for a productive and successful Summer Conference and I think may have had a connection to our record turnout, too.

MACo: What was your impression of your colleagues from across the State? 

Commissioner Barr speaks with Delegate Wilson of Washington County. Photo courtesy of The Herald-Mail.

Barr: The county visits impressed on me the extent to which local elected officials all serve with heart. They all have a passion for doing good, and a willingness to improve the quality of life in their local communities to allow Maryland to be the best that it can be.

MACo: Any key policy takeaways from the county visits?

Yes, definitely. Across the state, I heard a common message: counties simply cannot keep up with proper road maintenance at the current, historically low, funding levels.

MACo: That’s certainly been a front-and-center topic for MACo over the past few years; but it must’ve been different to hear it directly from your colleagues, and to observe road maintenance issues while travelling statewide, too. Any other topics of common concern?

I also realized the extent to which our State’s geography affects not only my home county, but many others. In Washington County, we are very aware of cross-border pressures on our businesses and services. At its narrow point, the county spans less than two miles from the West Virginia and Pennsylvania borders. But over the course of my visits, I saw that these border issues arise in every part of Maryland. Many of us compete for residents and businesses with surrounding states who offer a dramatically different mix of taxes, regulations, labor standards, and quality-of-life offerings.

MACo: What did you do with the feedback you received?

Throughout my travels, myself and MACo staff documented what we heard in our meetings. After all twenty-four visits were complete, I wrote a three and a half page letter to the Governor describing the points of universal concern among county governments that had emerged. While visiting the State House around Christmas, Governor Hogan acknowledged the year that MACo had in 2016.

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Commissioner Barr shares a laugh with MACo Board Members, Commissioner Pickrum of Kent County and Council Member Walker of Anne Arundel County.

MACo: Sometimes we hear that MACo’s membership is so diverse – with big and small counties, with suburban and rural settings – that it must be hard for us to agree on anything. What did you sense from talking with elected officials from every corner of the state?

Barr: MACo’s diverse membership means that there will be some challenges, however there are more opportunities for agreement than one may think. In my experience, local government officials generally share three common goals: public safety, public education, and public infrastructure.

MACo: In the year that you were President of MACo, what did you find was the best way to bridge gaps?

When it comes down to it, we are all passionate about serving others and do so with great enthusiasm, energy, and heart. In most of our visits I found that my colleagues wanted to chat, ask questions and have dialogue well beyond the allotted scheduled visit time frame. Many followed-up in phone calls and writing. Sometimes just lending an ear can bridge what may perceive to be potential differences.

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Commissioner Barr developed a strong working relationship with Governor Hogan during his time as MACo President.

MACo: You also developed quite a relationship with Governor Hogan. How did you two “click” so well?

Barr: As the incoming President of MACo, I had the opportunity to spend nearly three hours speaking with Governor and Mrs. Hogan at my inaugural banquet at MACo’s Winter Conference in Dorchester County, Maryland. With that evening as a starting point, we had an open dialogue on many topics throughout my year as MACo President.

MACo: Sometimes MACo’s position align with the Governor’s Office, and other times not. How did you maintain that initial connection throughout the year’s policy developments?

I think that being open-minded, available, hardworking, and respectful of his time helped to sustain our working relationship. Also, the ability to discuss policy matters from the standpoint of being a businessman and an electrician, in addition to being an elected official, helped our connection. For example, on the topic of school construction, I was able to speak with the Governor about costly contracting practices I had observed firsthand, and share how these costly practices pressure county budgets.

MACo: So, with your year in MACo’s top job behind you…how would you describe what MACo has to offer to newly elected officials or those who have not been as involved as you have?

Barr: MACo’s position in Annapolis and its commitment to representing the interests of all twenty-four local jurisdictions in Maryland is superb. MACo is blessed with tremendously talented and hardworking staff and concerned and dedicated elected officials.

MACo: Any advice for elected officials looking to become more active in MACo?

I would urge all county elected officials to participate in the MACo Legislative Committee as a member or an alternate while in office. Serving on the MACo Legislative Committee, I have seen respect and comradery develop across both sides of the aisle, and between representatives of urban and rural interests. It has been a life-changing educational opportunity.

Also, through attending Summer and Winter Conferences and taking advantage of other educational offerings, county elected officials become better government servants and better stewards of the public.

MACo: Thank you for your kind words and everything you have done and continue to do for Maryland counties and our association. We look forward to continuing our relationship with you!

NACo Northeast Regional Conference Call

A monthly call provides an opportunity for county government officials throughout the northeast United States to discuss federal policies affecting county governments.

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This month’s Northeast Regional Conference Call will be held on Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 8:00AM EST. The call is hosted by the National Association of Counties Northeast Regional Representative.

Details:

Dial-In:1-719-359-9722

Dial-In(toll free): 1-888-757-2790

Guest Passcode:299194

Conference Call Objectives

  • Regular update from your NACo Regional Representative
  • NACo Staff update on critical issues legislatively and organizationally
  • Address issues of concern to you

AGENDA

Welcome and Introductions

  • Hon. Christian Leinbach – Chairman, Berks County Commissioners (PA) / NACo NE US Representative
  • Roll Call by State – Each state will be called and Elected County Officials will be asked to state their name and county.
    • DC
    • DE
    • ME
    • MA
    • MD
    • NH
    • NJ
    • NY
    • PA
    • WV

 General Legislative/NACo Update

  • Deborah Cox – NACo Legislative Director
    • Federal Budget Update and Debt Ceiling
    • ACA repeal and replace status
    • Tax Reform status
  • Hadi Saigh – Associate Legislative Director – Justice & Public Safety
    • ICE Detainers and what they mean for counties
    • The 287(g) program impacts on counties and sheriffs
    • Sanctuary Counties

Upcoming NACo Webinars: 

NACo Conferences:

The next conference call will be May 24th at 8AM.

 

 

St. Mary’s County Proposed Budget Aligns With Revenues

The proposal for St. Mary’s County reflects a slight decrease in revenues to apply to the 2018 fiscal year.

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The St. Mary’s County operating budget recommendation totals about $220 million.

The St. Mary’s County operating budget recommendation totals about $220 million, a slight decrease from last year’s final appropriation. Decreased revenues are related to non-recurring grant revenues that were in the FY2017 Budget – approximately $6.5 million.

The budget proposal includes $102,189,940 recurring funds for the Board of Education – 46% of the County’s Budget. Other Funds in the Board of Education’s Budget are:

  • $108,088,153 is in their budget as operating – primarily unrestricted State funds
  • $21,340,757 restricted funds – grants
  • $7,880,420 in their revolving fund

For more information, see the Proposed Budget for St. Mary’s County.

Expert Suggests Counties Prepare For Possible Federal Cyber Security Grants

An opinion piece in Government Technology describes federal cyber legislation and shares hope for local funding.

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Congressman Ruppersberger speaks about the vulnerability of the nation’s grid in his introduction to a MACo conference session on cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity is a top concern of Maryland counties, and has been a focus of MACo’s newly created affiliate, of Maryland County Information Technology Officers. Cyber security was the subject of a panel discussion of state, local, and federal experts at MACo’s Summer Conference.

In an article published in Government Technology, Dan Lohrmann, former lead of Michigan government’s cybersecurity and technology infrastructure programs is hopeful regarding the potential for federal assistance with state and local cybersecurity development.

Lohrmann gives an overview of current federal legislation efforts, including The State Cyber Resiliency Act. As described by Lohrmann, The State Cyber Resiliency Act

. . . would leverage the existing State Cyber Resiliency Grant program to: “Assist State, local, and tribal governments in preventing, preparing for, protecting against, and responding to cyber threats, which shall be administered by the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.”

Each state would be eligible to apply for grants after they submit an approved cyber-resiliency plan. The act has now been referred to many committees and subcommittees.

Following some analysis of federal legislative and budgetary politics, Lohrmann recommends that local government work with the US-CERT’s C3 Voluntary program and states,

Bottom line: I do think Congress and the Trump administration will provide some level of grants in the coming year for new cybersecurity projects for state and local governments. Start planning now to take your cyberprogram to the next level with these cybergrants.

For more information, see Will Congress Help Fund New State and Local Cyber Programs? from Government Technology.

For information on MACo’s panel on this subject, see Cybersecurity Panels Shares a Network of Resources.

 

New Site Shares State’s Interoperability Progress with Public

After several  months of development, a public site with information on the State’s public safety communications interoperability program is now available.

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The State has launched a new interoperability website. Click here to access it.

Public safety communications interoperability – the capacity for fire, police, and other first responders to maintain radio connectivity throughout an emergency event – has been a top priority for state and local governments since the tragedy of 9-11 exposed interoperability issues with current systems.

In Maryland, county governments have advocated for improved statewide interoperability, and have offered local resources to the State to help connect disparate systems statewide. In 2014, statewide interoperability was a top MACo priority, and MACo advocated for legislation that ultimately created the State’s Radio Control Board to oversee the development of a 700MHz radio system (Maryland FiRST) that will improve interoperability.

Now, the Radio Control Board’s work, and that of its sister governance groups, will be more accessible as a new website will provide provide one centralized site for interoperability-related information in Maryland for public safety.

The site will eventually include:

  • Maryland FiRST Statewide Radio project status and updates
  • Policies and SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) as they relate to the use of the Maryland FiRST radio system
  • Statewide Communications Unit SOP
  • The Statewide Communications Interoperability Plan
  • statewide SOPs approved by the Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee (such as our MOU’s  with the FCC on Federal Interop Channel usage and FCC related issues) or
  • MOUs for radio or channel use

As described by Major Ken Hasenei of the Maryland State Police,

“Along with revising and overhauling our SCIP [Statewide Communications Interoperability Plan] last year, solidifying our governance structures, and meeting regularly to approve and discuss statewide interoperability issues and progress, this site is another major accomplishment  in providing structure and effective communications and coordination within Maryland and the other states.”

For more information, see the Interoperability Website.

Public Safety and Education Investments Lead Harford County Budget Proposal

County Executive Barry Glassman has released a recommended county budget for fiscal year 2018 which includes no increase in tax rates yet provides record level funding for public safety, education and libraries, according to the County.

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Harford County Executive’s proposed budget surpasses funding levels in public safety and education without raising taxes.

As quoted in the Press Release, Harford County Executive Glassman said,

“Three years ago we began on a new path forward to restore fiscal responsibility and balance to local government. It has not always been easy, but I am proud that we have followed this path to reinvest in people. In fact, since taking office, my administration has eliminated 122 positions within county government and implemented efficiencies in every county department. This has allowed us to direct more than $24 million over the past three years toward restoring salaries for teachers, law enforcement and other employees who serve our citizens and improve lives in Harford County.”

The recommended operating budget directs 83% of new revenue to public safety and education and funds Harford County Public Schools at more than $5 million above the required Maintenance of Effort, according to the press release.

Budget highlights include:

RESTORING BALANCE & EFFICIENCY

  • No tax increases
  • Realistic six-year Capital Improvement Program; maintaining Harford County’s Triple-A bond rating
  • Rightsizing the county workforce, eliminating 122 positions since December 2014, and operating within our means
  • County government efficiencies have allowed us to dedicate 83% of new FY 18 revenue to education and public safety

REINVESTING IN OUR WORKFORCE

  • Merit-based salary increases of 4% per qualifying county employee
  • Increased funding equivalent to 4% for employees in the Harford County Public Library, State’s Attorney’s Office, EMS Foundation, Sheriff’s Office civilian personnel and Circuit Court system
  • $2.2 million to fully fund the first year phase-in of Sheriff’s Office Pay Study for Law Enforcement and Corrections Personnel

INVESTING IN EDUCATION

  • Record level funding continues for Harford County Public Schools:
  • Operating funding for Harford County Public Schools at $238,715,645 or $5,447,307 above the Maintenance of Effort requirement
  • Support for teachers, with $5 million in increased funding dedicated for instructional salaries
  • Fully funded Harford Community College request at $850,000

STRENGTHENING COMMUNITIES

  • Increased county funding for prevention of heroin addiction and related support services
  • $4.6 million for Agricultural Land Preservation
  • Record level funding for Harford County Public Library
  • New EMS division under the Department of Emergency Services consisting of 16 paramedic positions and a medical director at no increased cost to the County
  • New VFC Ladies Auxiliary Service Program
  • Contributions to historically preserve the Hosanna School Museum and McComas Institute

CAPITAL PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS

  • $15 million investment in county road and bridge projects
  • Storm water remediation projects funded at $6.25 million
  • Full funding to replace North Harford High School’s artificial turf field
  • $650,000 towards priority repairs for Volunteer Fire Company facilities and life safety equipment
  • Reinvesting in water & sewer infrastructure: $10.9 million
  • Funding to connect the Ma and Pa Heritage Trail
  • Construction to begin in 2018 for the $99.2 million Havre de Grace Middle/High School replacement project
  • Funding to complete the $7.6 million Bel Air Elementary School HVAC System and Open Classroom Conversion project
  • $1 million in funding for school technology in HCPS
  • North Harford High School Aquaculture Lab and Greenhouse project funded at $830,000
  • Fully funded FY 18 and FY 19 request from HCPS for Swimming Pool Renovations

For more information, the entire budget is published on the county website at http://www.harfordcountymd.gov/1531/Budget-and-Management-Research.