Today, the County Council passed County Executive Calvin Ball’s Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) capital and operating budgets in a 4-1 vote, his third budget as County Executive. The passed FY22 operating budget provides historically high funding to the school system, community college and library system. The Council approved $640.8 million for the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS), a $20.5 million increase over last year’s budget and exceeding Maintenance of Effort (MOE) levels by $10.5 million, marking the largest increase over MOE in seven years. The County also invested support towards continued recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, with funding for non-profits, businesses, and public health efforts.
“Through careful planning and thoughtful discussions, we’ve created our largest operating budget to date, with no tax increases for our residents or businesses,” said County Executive Ball. “This balanced budget provides broad based support for our priorities, and directs one-time savings towards critical public infrastructure, such as road resurfacing, repairing sidewalks, and flood mitigation projects. Education is still our top priority, with historically high funding to the school system, community college, and library system. As we turn the corner on this pandemic, on the road to recovery together, this budget is vital to move Howard County into the future. I remain committed to working with the members of our Council, residents, stakeholders, and all members of our community to ensure that our government provides the best services possible and a high quality of life for all Howard County residents.”
In addition to education funding, the following priorities were fully funded in the adopted FY22 Operating Budget:
- $1.1 million in pandemic relief provided to non-profits to support ongoing pandemic needs. The funding includes support for rent, utility, mortgage and food assistance to assist many residents that are still suffering from COVID-related income losses and are struggling to provide the basic necessities.
- $1 million to support the Health Department’s ongoing pandemic response needs. The funding provides support in this environment of uncertainty that includes needs such as potential COVID-19 booster vaccinations, initial COVID vaccinations for children under 12 years old who are currently not eligible for vaccine, and mitigation of COVID-19 and its variants in fall and winter months.
- $1 million small business fund aimed at providing collateral assistance for small businesses seeking loans. This fund will provide more access to affordable capital for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
- $981,000 in PAYGO funding for body-worn cameras/equipment. The program, including funding for the 26 positions across Howard County Police Department, State’s Attorney’s Office, and Sherriff’s Department, will be fully funded by spring of Fiscal Year 2022.
- $750,000 to expand our HoCo STRIVES initiatives, which provide social and emotional learning supports to students in our most vulnerable communities.
- $510,000 fully funds the Howard County General Hospital’s request to support its Behavioral Health Navigators, Care Coordinators, and Practice Howard programs. This funding brings the total 3-year funding from the County to the Hospital to a record $4M, the most provided in any consecutive 3-year period. This historic funding has supported infrastructure and programmatic needs.
- $500,000 will support modernization efforts through reopening through the Innovation Fund. This funding will be used for grants for innovation initiatives designed to bring increased efficiency and effectiveness across the County.
- $142,000 funds key environmental initiatives including updating the Climate Action Plan to include adaptation and resilience and enhancing the Green Infrastructure Network for better access for all Howard County residents.
- $78,000 in funding will be used to hire consultants for Gateway Infrastructure and to assist with the General Plan efforts. This area has some of the greatest potential commercial development in the county, impacting the future of commercial hubs and business growth.
- Nearly $260,000 to restore and establish three critical Department of Community Resources and Services positions and one Department of Social Services position. Restored the Consumer Protection Manager and Disability Services Manager positions and established a position for a Housing Coordinator. Established a position in the Department of Social Services for a Social Services Investigator.
The adopted FY22 Capital Budget includes:
- $57.3 million in County funding towards school capital projects, fully funding the continued construction of High School #13, Hammond High School renovation and addition, and Talbott Springs replacement projects.
- $6 million in County funding, combined with $8.9 million State grants and $75 million WIFIA loan to support the Maryland Avenue Culvert Expansion, the extended North Tunnel, and flood mitigation facilities on the New Cut Branch and Hudson Branch.
- A record $5 million for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure in Howard County. This funding provides new infrastructure to continue implementation of the Howard County Pedestrian Master Plan, Bicycle Master Plan and Complete Streets Policy. This funding also enables repairs and maintenance of existing sidewalks and curb ramps. Both the new infrastructure and maintenance of existing facilities provide significant safety, economic, environmental and health benefits for our community.
- $5.5 million in County funding and $1 million in State funding for design and construction of East Columbia 50+ Center.
- $1.3 million in County funding and $750,000 in State aid for the construction of the Harriet Tubman Cultural Center, allowing this historically significant, long-awaited project to be completed in FY 2022.
- $700,000 for the study, design, and construction of flood mitigation efforts in the Valley Mede and Chatham sub-watersheds.
- $500,000 for the design and construction of drainage and stormwater management improvements in the Orchard Ridge community.
- $375,000 in funding for the Sensory Trail and Playground at Centennial Park. This funding will allow for the completion of a sensory trail that is accessible for all abilities and inclusive for those who want to play outside. Children or adults with disabilities will use seeing, hearing and touching while experiencing nature to engage their senses.