At the Howard County Board of Education meeting today (starting at 4:00pm) one of the agenda items is “*FY 2021 Capital Budget and FY 2022-2026 Capital Improvement Program Follow-up Discussion (Michael Martirano) – DISCUSSION/ACTION“. Here is the overview of that item:

The annual capital budget process began on September 10, 2019 when the Superintendent presented the proposed Capital Budget. On September 19, 2019, the Board voted to “Move to amend the FY 2021 Capital Budget request and State priority listing to include Talbot Springs ES and Hammond HS as top priorities.”

On August 28, 2019, Dr. Martirano met with the County Executive and was informed the expected County funding would be $41-$47 million. In a letter provided by Dr. Ball dated November 27, 2019, the County Executive noted the current projections indicate that as much as $50-$54 million County funding will likely be available for the HCPSS CIP for each of the next five years. On December 9, 2019 the Board of Education and County Council held their quarterly meeting in which four scenarios were presented focusing on the three main priority projects. On December 10, 2019, Dr. Martirano met with Dr. Ball to continue discussions on the Operating Budget with ties to the Capital Budget.

On December 12, 2019, the Interagency Commission on School Construction (IAC) met to hear testimony from each school district and to discuss the IAC staff funding recommendations. The recommended funding allocation to be provide to HCPSS is $23.5 million for New High School #13. No funding recommendation were provided for Hammond HS Renovation and Addition, Talbott Springs ES Replacement, or the Hammond MS Boiler Replacement. Due to the capital project timelines and indicated County and State funding allocations, a direction is needed for the continuation for Hammond HS and Talbott Springs ES.

RECOMMENDATION/FUTURE DIRECTION: Provide future direction on the continuation of the Hammond HS and Talbott Springs ES projects.

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Read the full agenda on BoardDocs:  https://go.boarddocs.com/mabe/hcpssmd/Board.nsf/Public

So it appears that a concern about the lack of state funding could jeopardize the Talbott Springs ES and Hammond HS projects.

HoCoBOE member Chao Wu recently shared documents presented that shows the kind of local and state funding the HCPSS was looking for in order to move forward on all capital projects:

So the document shows that the HCPSS was looking for more than $44 million in state funding to cover all of the projects for 2021. Even HS#13 was not funded at the amount in the document above ($28 million vs $23.5 million noted in the agenda item).

I wondered…what is the normal state funding we get here in Howard County for capital projects? Here is what I found in past budget documents:

If I am reading these document correctly it looks like a sharp drop in state funding for our capital needs for the HCPSS over the past two budget cycles. It sounds like we will get a big spike in 2021…but that it may be all used for HS#13.

HoCoBOE member Chao Wu notes in his article:

IMPORTANT FACTORS IN THE FUNDING OF A STATE CIP ARE:

  1. Local funding is required up front due to the reimbursement nature, even on projects where a local match is not required,
  2. State funding currently is a reimbursement of 55% of eligible costs of construction costs only,
  3. All costs outside of construction (planning, design, engineering, acquisition etc.) for eligible projects are 100% locally funded,
  4. Not all line items within the local CIP are State eligible and those projects therefore are 100% locally funded. Examples include relocatable classrooms, site acquisition, school parking lots, playgrounds, technology, and planning and design.

 

I will be very interested to hear what the HoCoBOE members say on this topic today. My hope is that they can work to find ways to fund these projects in some way.

Scott E