ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today unveiled a $377.7 million capital projects spending plan for the coming year which invests more money in classroom construction than at any time in the past two decades, while offering the highest funding for road resurfacing in eight years and making major progress on flood control projects in Ellicott City and elsewhere.
The investments we are proposing are prudent, but they are bold, and Howard County residents will see the benefits quickly. Our fiscal discipline over several years has created the capacity so we can now make unparalleled progress in education, public safety, transportation and more, and build a better future for all of Howard County.
The county executive’s proposal fully funds a $105.9 million construction request from the Howard County Board of Education, which represents nearly 1 of every 3 dollars in the proposed capital plan.
A county funding commitment of $54.3 million for K-12 public schools is being matched by $51.6 million in state funding, secured with the assistance of the Howard County legislative delegation and others in the General Assembly.
“Strong partnerships with the Howard County legislative delegation and other state leaders make these investments possible,” Ball said. “It is gratifying to see the results of working together on behalf of our children, our families and our educators.”
The FY23 budget proposal, Executive Ball’s fourth, marks a capstone to record investments in education. Over the past four years, funding for school construction has increased by more than $78 million compared with the previous administration, with capacity for an additional 2,400 students to be available by the end of 2023.
Projects funded with this unprecedented schools investment include:
- Construction of High School No. 13 in Jessup, expected to be completed in August 2023.
- A major renovation and capacity-adding addition at Hammond High School, to be completed in December 2023.
- A replacement for Talbott Springs Elementary School in Oakland Mills, expected to be completed by the start of 22-23 school year in August
- Major systemic renovations at many other schools, including Manor Woods Elementary, Guilford Elementary, Jeffers Hill Elementary and more.
In addition to K-12 classroom spending, the Ball budget plan proposes educational projects that include:
- $14.8 million for a new Mathematics and Athletic complex at Howard Community College, matched by state funding.
- $1.7 million to begin design of a new library branch in Downtown Columbia, with the anticipates that construction of a new state-of-the-art Central Library will begin in FY24, with $82.8 million earmarked for this groundbreaking project.
The County Executive’s budget proposal would make historic investments in other critical areas:
Roads and Transportation: The FY23 capital program contains $12.5 million in road resurfacing – the highest in last eight years – to address an ongoing maintenance backlog while avoiding more costly repairs and reconstruction in the future.
Bike and Pedestrian Access: The proposal includes a record $8.2 million for bike lanes, sidewalks, curb ramps and other project to help implement the county’s Pedestrian Master Plan, the Bicycle Master Plan and the Complete Streets policy - major priorities of Executive Ball.
Parks and Recreation: The $19 million for recreation and parks programs contained in the proposal is the largest investment in eight years, and includes funding for the potential acquisition of the Camp Ilchester property, expanded recreation, pathways and parking at Blandair Park and improvements to the Schooley Mill Park equestrian ring.
Flood Control and Stormwater Management: The capital budget proposal continues to advance the Ellicott City Safe and Sound plan, with a $36.4 million investment that combines $12.5 million in state assistance with $23.9 million in county funding.
Public Safety: To meet the needs of our criminal justice system, the FY23 capital program contains $6.0 million in systemic renovation funding for police and fire facilities and $3.8 million for renovation of the Detention Center, including design of its new mental health unit. Work continues, in collaboration with the County Council, on locating and building needed new fire stations.
Paying for the Capital Plan: Because of the fiscal discipline of Executive Ball, Howard County has built significant reserves and maintained its AAA bond rating, which means these record investments are affordable and sustainable. The FY23 capital proposal includes $45 million - or 12 percent – to be financed with one-time Pay As You Go funding. The spending plan calls for $75.5 million to be borrowed through county General Obligation bonds, which is near the lowest level in the last decade.
The Howard County Council received the proposed capital plan today. Hearings are scheduled in April and May, with a final vote to come on May 25.