Education and public safety are the priorities in a fiscal 2016 capital improvement budget proposed by Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman on April 1.
The $342.9 million proposed budget includes $96 million from General Obligation (GO) bonds. This amount is higher than the recommendation from the Spending Affordability Advisory Committee, but lower than the $120 million ceiling of the prior two years.
The budget includes the following key points:
- $63.7 million for the Howard County Board of Education, including $13.4 million for a new elementary school, $8.7 million for the Wilde Lake Middle School replacement, $2.5 million for the Patuxent Valley Middle School renovation, and additional funds for other ongoing renovation and technology needs in schools.
- $16 million in GO bonds to support Howard Community College’s Science, Engineering and Technology Building. $913,000 is slated for the design of the Nursing and Science Technology Building.
- $6.7 million for the Elkridge Branch Library/Senior Center.
- $8.6 million for renovation of the detention center; $2 million toward construction of a new police station; and $2.4 million toward relocation of a fire station to Elkridge.
- $7 million in GO bonds and $6.4 million from stormwater bonds to fund various storm drainage projects.
- $5 million to finish installation of artificial turf fields at county high schools, continue funding for Blandair Regional Park, and for systematic replacements for recreation and parks facilities.
Council Input Emphasized
Kittleman said the county faces fiscal challenges, and that he had to make difficult choices for fiscal 2016 to stay within budget constraints. The Spending Affordability Advisory Committee urged lowering debt authorization to offset the impact from a growth of debt authorization in the past two years and also to allow the county’s operating budget to keep sufficient capacity to fund strategic priorities — such as education — after paying increasing debt services.
Kittleman said he believed he has received unprecedented input from the Howard County Council as he developed the budget. “I met with council members before we made these decisions on the capital budget,” he said. “I made sure I brought them in ahead of time. We met with each council member individually to get their priorities, and that was the first time they’ve been included in this way in the process.”
The county council will hold a public hearing on the budget on April 16.