Howard County Executive Calvin Ball posted to Facebook today with the following information:
As we move forward on our plan to rebuild Ellicott City and make it a model of resiliency so we keep people safe and don’t have to keep rebuilding after each major weather event, it’s important to re-state what I said at my announcement on Monday. We will work with our partners in both the state and federal governments, as well as the private sector to identify funds that can be used for our plan. Since taking office, we have secured nearly $8 million for Ellicott City. Additionally, Delegate Courtney Watson and Senator Katie Fry Hester led the effort that put an additional $8 million into the state’s Flood Mitigation Grant Fund for fiscal years 2021 – 2023. We will pursue grants from this fund in those years. Projects like EC Safe and Sound, our Ellicott City Flood Mitigation Plan, are largely paid for from our CAPITAL budget.
The CAPITAL budget is same budget that’s used to build and improve facilities throughout the county, and most of these projects are funded over several years. Money for this budget comes from the sale of bonds. Just this month Howard County once again became one of just 43 out of over 3,000 counties in our Nation to receive a AAA rating from all three bond rating agencies. The rating affirms Howard County’s strong fiscal management, our ability to pay our debts, and gives taxpayers the lowest possible interest when repaying bonds sold by the county.
This is a distinctly different budget than the OPERATING budget, which allocates the funds to keep our government and our schools open and operating. The revenue available for the OPERATING budget comes most significantly from the property and income taxes we collect. Like a household that lives off its paycheck, these revenues are our paycheck and we must present a balanced budget and live within the means of our residents. We look year after year at every department of government for innovative ideas, efficiencies, and new ways of doing things to hold down the cost to our residents.
The Howard County Public Schools operating budget has increased an average of $23.6 million in each of the last ten years. In the budget being considered by the County Council, the Howard County Public Schools operating budget increases by $46.0 million, the largest increase in over a decade. Likewise, while the Superintendent’s proposal to the Board of Education for county funding has averaged an increase of $26.5 million per year in the last ten years, this year’s Superintendent’s proposal, offered two weeks after I took office, requested an increase of $122.8 million.
We can’t address years of under-funding and fulfill that proposal in one year without elimination of entire departments or a property tax increase of 23% percent, which would mean an additional $1,000 per year to the average Howard County homeowner.
My goal is for all residents of Howard County to always have the most factual and accurate information available in the most transparent manner. If you have any questions, please, don’t hesitate to reach out to my office by emailing me at CBall@HowardCountymd.gov.
I always enjoy getting this level of detail from our elected officials and thought it was worth sharing here on the blog.