As the County braces for revenue impacts potentially exceeding $35 million in fiscal year (FY) 2020 and significant impacts beyond due to the COVID-19 virus, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano jointly announced the partial delay of a plan to eliminate the $39.2 million HCPSS Health and Dental Fund deficit. The announcement delays one-time funding commitments in the deficit reduction plan from FY2021-FY2024. The County will still seek approval of a resolution allowing the Board of Education (BOE) to appropriate $7.2 million of its FY2019 unassigned fund balance to pay down a portion of the Health and Dental Fund deficit in FY2020.
“The impact, response and recovery from the coronavirus will affect us all financially and has forced County government to reevaluate financial commitments moving into our next fiscal year,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “With that said, we worked collaboratively to develop a multi-year, pragmatic approach to eliminating the Health Fund deficit with the Board of Education and Dr. Martirano, and I look forward to resuming that work at a later date.”
“We appreciate the County Executive’s collaboration to eliminate the health fund deficit as quickly as possible while considering the unexpected impact that COVID-19 has had on budgets,” said HCPSS Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano. “I am pleased to have the County Executive’s support to use $7.2 million of the $15.2 million HCPSS fund balance to reduce the historic deficit, demonstrating to the public and our auditors that the County and HCPSS are committed to eliminating this historic deficit and demonstrating strong financial management.”
“We appreciate the County’s open communication and collaboration and understand the need to delay the County’s portion of funding to reduce the deficit,” said Board of Education Chair Mavis Ellis. “I am pleased that costs for the HCPSS’s Continuity of Learning Plan will be covered through current year savings due in large part to hiring and spending freezes implemented as a result of this pandemic and that HCPSS will be able to reduce the historic deficit that was accrued over many years under prior HCPSS leadership.”