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Transportation Funding Doubles, Record School Spending: HoCo Operating Budget Proposal

The budget proposal also includes more than 100 additional positions, County Executive Ken Ulman said.

County Executive Ken Ulman at Ducketts Lane Elementary School. Ulman's FY 2015 budget contains what he said was the highest amount for education in the county on record. (Credit: Howard County Government)
County Executive Ken Ulman at Ducketts Lane Elementary School. Ulman's FY 2015 budget contains what he said was the highest amount for education in the county on record. (Credit: Howard County Government)

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman rolled out his proposed $1.695 billion operating budget this week, including what he said was record funding for the Howard County Public School System.

The operating budget proposal includes an additional 124 county employees and new programs supporting transportation, mental health and other initiatives outlined below.

It also includes a 3 percent cost-of-living increase for general county employees. "Our workers have done more with less for years," Ulman said. "I am pleased we are able to provide them with the compensation they have earned and they deserve."

County property tax remains at $1.014 per $100 in assessed property value, and the local income tax rate remains at 3.2 percent of personal income, Ulman said.

Howard County Public School System: $530.4 million (6.62 percent increase)

This $33 million increase over the previous year is the highest amount ever budgeted for the county school system, Ulman said, and fully funds the Howard County Board of Education's request.

  • Includes "Elementary School Model Initiative" launch to bring comprehensive full-day pre-kindergarten, daily world language instruction, specialized assessment/engagement tools and other services to Bryant Woods, Running Brook, Phelps Luck, Stevens Forest and Talbott Springs elementary
  • 40 new educator positions, including for model schools program and the Thomas Viaduct Middle School, opening in fall 2014
  • First-year payment on a lease for a new data warehouse and student information system

Howard Community College: $31 million (6.41 percent increase)

  • New staff dentist, dental hygiene coordinator, nursing position, visual arts position
  • $2.5 million for college scholarships

Howard County Public Library: $18.84 million (6.59 percent increase)

  • Increase supplies and materials for HiTech and children’s classes

Howard County Police Department: $105.75 million (5.87 percent increase)

  • Adds 14 sworn officers and four new civilian positions: seven-person bicycle unit to patrol pathways and surrounding communities; mental health liaison; three-person human trafficking and vice crime unit, with particular focus on Route 1 corridor; fiscal manager; two support techs for record-keeping; and support tech for administrative support; resources to investigate fraud like identity theft and financial crimes
  • Satellite office in Elkridge and Ellicott City
Howard County Department of Corrections: $16.5 million (4.55 percent increase)
  • Four staff, including correctional supervisor, correctional specialist, correctional lieutenant and half-year human service worker
Department of Fire and Rescue Service: $98.26 million (7.56 percent increase)
  • Elkridge fire station relocation and staffing
  • Preparation for construction of a new Jessup station
  • Technological improvements. 

Planning and Zoning: $19.07 million (15 percent increase) 

  • Includes development of Howard County census data program
  • Planning and development of specific projects in bicycle master plan

Public Works: $214.79 million (18.58 percent increase)

  • Includes 16 new positions, including three engineers, one engineer technician, one plant operator, one program manager, four maintenance, one in recycling and food cart processing, two in composting, one safety officer, one supervisor and one administrative.

Inspections, Licenses, Permits: $7.15 million (2.28 percent increase)

Soil Conservation District: $763,165 (7.79 percent increase)

Recreation and Parks: $44.76 million (10.91 percent increase)

  • Three new positions: recreation services supervisor for new Elkridge middle schools, administrative analyst and technical support
  • Two park maintenance specialists for Troy and Blandair parks, included in general fund
  • Making Belmont Historic Mansion program operational
  • Completing South Branch Park
Citizen Services: $17.6 million (2.94 percent increase)
  • Four new positions: program assistant for the SPRING program; human services position to provide bilingual services for non-English-speaking Korean population; human services specialist for the Parents As Teachers effort to provide outreach to Hispanic parents; and human services specialist to support Voices for Change and anti-bullying initiatives

Transportation: $15.96 million (52.25 percent increase)

  • Creates a new pedestrian and bicycle coordinator position
  • $800,000 for new buses connecting routes from Howard County General Hospital and Howard Community College with The Mall in Columbia
  • New website at transitRTA.com

Health Department: $9 million (0.89 percent decrease)

Mental Health Authority: $545,000 (36.25 percent increase)

  • Creates second full-time Mobile Crisis Team, which equips police officers and mental health professionals with specialized training to respond to emergency calls, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Formation of team of certified instructors to teach Mental Health First Aid
  • New position to ensure those receiving emergency treatment at Howard County General Hospital for mental-health related issues are connected to resources prior to discharge

Social Services: $920,608 (72.86 percent increase)

  • Includes $47,000 for child care supplement program to help working parents bridge gap between state subsidy and day care costs

University of Maryland Extension: $472,748 (5.05 percent increase)

Community Partnerships: $9.2 million (13.63 percent increase)

  • Includes programs like Legal Aid, Maryland Food Bank, Grassroots
  • $1 million to Howard County Arts Council, a 30 percent increase from 2014
  • $200,000 in Arts Entrepreneurism Incubator Grants to bring arts in community settings

County Council: $4.1 million (10.97 percent increase)

Circuit Court: $3.45 million (9.5 percent increase)

Orphans Court: $53,732 (2.03 percent decrease)

State's Attorney: $7.7 million (1.88 percent increase)

  • New legal assistant position to aid with increasing number of indictments

Sheriff's Office: $7.34 million (4.91 percent increase)

  • New deputy sheriff position to help with court services and operations

Board of Elections: $2.61 million (0.12 percent increase)

County Executive: $1.16 million (3.04 percent increase)

County Administration: $99.18 million (7.95 percent increase)

  • Three new positions: senior HR analyst, procurement analyst, fleet analyst

Finance: $12.95 million (4.72 percent increase)

  • Addition of fiscal manager

Office of Law: $3.69 million (3.49 percent increase)

Economic Development Authority: $4.6 million (4.47 percent increase)

Technology and Communication Services: $27 million (16.26 percent increase)

  • Nine new positions: project manager, tech support specialist, security camera manager, security camera technician, departmental tech support, network manager, tech specialist for Jabber support and two techs for SAP support

Housing and Community Development: $9.69 million (18.8 percent decrease)

  • Two new positions: public relations specialist and development/finance specialist
Nondepartmental Expenses: $105.45 million (2.11 percent decrease)
  • $16.2 million (16 percent increase) in pay-as-you-go funds, including $2 million for Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission to incorporate improved Merriweather Post Pavilion into plan; $2 million for homebuyers to rehabilitate homes in aging neighborhoods; $1.5 million for Inner Arbor Trust toward Symphony Woods project; and $50,000 for commission on prekindergarten

Above, only some of the initiatives are listed. See the whole operating budget proposal here

Next, the County Council will review the budget and hold a hearing so the public can weigh in on the proposal. The hearing is at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, April 28, at the George Howard Building, 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City, in the Banneker Room.

Can't make the hearing but want to submit your feedback? Email your testimony to Council Administrator Sheila Tolliver at councilmail@howardcountymd.gov. 

Related:

MG42 April 23, 2014 at 12:27 PM
Tons of wastefully spending in there, Ulman should be ashamed, not proud. What is the $1.16 million dollar expense for "County Executive"?

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