Welcome to my first post of 2019…on the last day of 2018 Howard County Government announced (via press release) Howard County Executive Calvin Ball has established the Spending Affordability Advisory Committee (SAAC). Here is the information in that release:

Executive Ball announces Spending Affordability Advisory Committee to evaluate FY2020 and beyond

December 31, 2018 

Media Contact:

Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball has established the Spending Affordability Advisory Committee (SAAC) to prepare recommendations regarding revenues and expenditures for County government over the next five years. Created by Executive Order, Ball identified 20 members and seven current leaders of Howard County Government to serve on the committee, which will be led by Budget Director Holly Sun.

“Our budget reflects our values, our priorities, and, most importantly, our outcomes,” said Ball. “We must maintain Howard County’s excellent fiscal condition and AAA bond rating despite the economic challenges before us and the increasing demands for infrastructure and mandated services. I am seeking guidance from this committee of experts to predict future revenue projections for our capital and operating budgets moving forward.”

In the Executive Order establishing the SAAC, Ball directed that it “review in detail the status and projections of revenues and expenditures” for the coming fiscal year 2020, and for years 2021-2025. Ball also tasked the SAAC with evaluating the impact of economic indicators, such as changes in personal income and the growth of the assessable base. The committee will also consider the county’s existing long-term educational, safety, environmental, transportation, health and human services, and employee benefit obligations.

“I look forward to the analysis and recommendations from the Spending Affordability Advisory Committee on budget priorities for the County,” said Howard County Council Chair Christiana Mercer Rigby (District 3). “I believe that input from this diverse group of civic leaders allows for greater transparency and is critical to providing a budget that promotes our values while securing our financial future.”

Opel Jones, Howard County Council Vice Chair (District 2), said, “I am extremely pleased to see the inception of the Spending Affordability Advisory Committee, as well as the several facets of diversity amongst its members and advisors. I look forward to their initial findings and subsequent projections about our spending affordability.”

Members of the committee include:

Rogers Barnes
Richard Clinch, Ph.D.
Lynn Coleman, Howard Community College
George Davis
Christina Delmont Small, Howard County Board of Education
Khaleda Hasan, Ph.D.
Jetheda Hernandez
Nikki Highsmith Vernick, The Horizon Foundation
Shaista Hira
Daraius Irani, Ph.D.
Rafiu Ighile, Howard County Public School System
Tonya Kennon, Howard County Library System
Elizabeth Edsall Kromm, Ph.D., Howard County General Hospital
Barbara Lawson
Jennifer Mallo, Howard County Board of Education
Milton Matthews, Columbia Association
Leonardo McClarty, Howard County Chamber of Commerce
Steve Poynot
Joshua Tzuker
Beverly White-Seals, Community Foundation of Howard County

The following county employees will serve as advisors to the committee:

Holly Sun, Budget Administrator (Chair)
Caitlin Connors, Internal Auditor
Craig Glendenning, Howard County Auditor
Janet Irvin, Director, Department of Finance
Jennifer Jones, Deputy Chief of Staff
Lonnie R. Robbins, Chief Administrative Officer
Larry Twele, Howard County Economic Development Authority

The committee is directed to prepare and present a report by March 1, 2019. Meetings will begin in January 2019 and are open to the public. Additional details about the committee meetings will be available online shortly.

Howard County has a great number of BIG projects on the books right now (Downtown Columbia plans, a new courthouse, plans for Ellicott City to deal with flooding in the future, significant funding requests from HCPSS and many other planned projects) and I will be interested in seeing what comes out of this committee and if their report changes the direction of projects in the future.

I did find it interesting that two current Howard County Board of Education members are on the committee (Delmont-Small and Mallo). I think it is great they are on it…and I think in the context of dealing with the HCPSS budget requests…this is a great move.

Stay tuned…when the report comes out in late February or early March I will be sure to review it and provide my thoughts.

Scott E

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