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Budget Proposal: Increased Funding, Increased Tax, Homeless Initiative

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman released an operating budget proposal of $898.8 million on Friday.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman Friday proposed to the Howard County Council a "lean" $898.8 million operating budget, crafted under the assumption of a worst-case scenario in the state's recent budget impasse.

Under the proposed budget, Howard County Public Schools, Howard Community College and the Howard County Library System would receive $526 million–a 2.7 percent increase from last year.

The Howard County Police Department would receive $180 million–a 3.5 percent increase over last year’s budget. Non-education funding would collectively increase 1.2 percent from last year, according to the proposal.

"Our budget is responsible, lean and not without sacrifice," said Ulman in a press release. "For the sixth year in a row we have been able to improve our priorities of public safety, education, and quality of life without raising property or income taxes."

Howard County’s property tax of $1.014 per $100 in assessed property value stayed the same in fiscal year 2013. This tax helps fund education and general government operations.

The fire and rescue tax increased throughout the county to $0.176 per $100 of assessed value.

Previously, Howard County was divided into two fire tax districts, both of which paid a lower rate -- $.1355 in the metro district and $.1155 in the rural district. The County Council approved the consolidation and tax increase earlier this year.

According to the county, the budget proposal was created with heavy consideration of the state's budget, which would cut 1 percent of funding to Howard County. 

In April,    and onto the counties. Under this plan, counties would be responsible for half the burden of teacher pensions. 

The pension shift is not included in budget passed by the legislature, but some lawmakers have said they , in which case a shift could be back in the picture.

"This budget is based on the prevailing consensus that the cost of teacher retirement obligations will begin to shift to county governments this year," according to the statement from Ulman's office.

For the first time, the budget also includes money earmarked specifically for the "Plan to End Homelessness." In his statement, Ulman said the plan involves a more efficient use of existing programs as well as additional funds for subsidies, addiction treatment and other services aimed at reducing the county's homeless population.

Ulman's budget cites several "cost savings" made over the past six years, including expanding the recycling program, decreasing county take-home vehicles, hybrid vehicle additions and a new cell phone policy for county employees. 

Robert Wickline April 23, 2012 at 01:44 AM
Why do high school footall players need artificial turf fields at approx. $1,000,000 each? That is insane! It doesn't make our kids any smarter or pay our teachers one more penny, which is the cry of every liberal. Please explain that to us Ken.
Jack April 23, 2012 at 04:40 AM
You all need to educate yourselves on these toxic turf feilds and rec and parks attempt to take over your schools. Call the BOE and express your concerns befor the April 26 BOE meeting. There will be 2 public meetings on May 1 and May 15 at Glenelg and Riverhill.
bill bissenas April 23, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Mike, you'll find not critical reporting in Howard County about Ulman's budget. The media is in the tank for him, it's just that simple. The media just parrots what Ulman wants them to say.
bill bissenas April 23, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Ken "dirty, filthy" Ulman (and before him, James Robey) has massively increased the size of Howard County government. Over the past 13 years, property taxes have increased at a rate of more than 8 percent annually. On average, Howard County property owners pay more in taxes than any other county in Maryland. And HoCo ranks in the top 7 percent of counties nationwide for highest property taxes. And now "dirty" Ken wants you to believe he is a fiscal conservative. I think it's disgraceful how he treats the people of Howard County, how believes that we are simply stupid, ignorant or both. Ken is a disgrace to HoCo and to Maryland.
bill bissenas April 23, 2012 at 01:39 PM
The author is mixing terms apparently. The general fund and operating budget are two different terms. The general fund, which has been in the $800+ million range is what's probably reflected in the article. The operating budget, which includes the general fund has been in the $1.5+ billion range. Only a statist like Ulman can increase spending and call it lean. And now Ken has established a new homelessness entitlement that will only grow with time, drawing homeless folks to HoCo from the surrounding counties (aided by the social justice churches). Yep, Dems behaving like Dems.

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