ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today submitted his proposed Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25) Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to the Howard County Council. This carefully crafted $412.5 million package provides critical resources for education, community facilities, public safety, flood control and stormwater management, infrastructure, bike, and pedestrian friendly transportation, and more to help advance projects that will improve the quality of life for all. The budget and County Executive Ball’s detailed letter to the Council can be found here.

Our proposed FY25 Capital Budget establishes a bold vision of community investment in Howard County. It is carefully balanced to be affordable and responsible, while focusing on projects that enhance the quality of life for all in our community. Through this budget, we are fulfilling our promises to champion educational facilities, create public spaces for all, tackle climate change, and build a transportation system for people of all ages and abilities to become better connected. With these investments, we are ensuring that Howard County remains a model community and the best place to live, work, play, grow, and thrive.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

The CIP calls for capital projects to be funded through a combination of:

  • $89.3 million in General Obligation bonds;
  • $111.9 million in one-time Pay As You Go (PAYGO) funding; and
  • Grants and other dedicated revenue sources.

This variety of sources exemplifies ongoing efforts to control Howard County debt service levels and diversify funding streams.
Ball’s proposed budget fully funds the Board of Education’s capital funding request for the third consecutive year. It proposes $75.7 million in local and state funding to foster the best teaching and learning environment for students and educators. County funding will include $61.2 million, which is the second highest in 16 years, and anticipated State aid of $14.5 million.

The capital budget prioritizes systemic renovations across many HCPSS educational facilities including:

  • $36.8 million to address systemic maintenance needs including HVAC replacements, athletic needs, air quality, school safety and security;
  • $10.2 million for the Oakland Mills Middle School renovations/addition, which will expand capacity by 199 new seats;
  • $6.6 million toward enhanced IT investments, including infrastructure upgrades, applications, and cybersecurity improvements; 
  • $3.1 million for various projects such as playground upgrades and parking enhancements;
  • $1.1 million to renovate the Faulkner Ridge Center, which will become a regional pre-K center; and
  • $1 million for the Applications and Research Laboratory to modernize and expand the building footprint.

Additionally, the proposed budget provides $15 million in County PAYGO funds for land acquisition, planning, and design for High School #14 in Elkridge. This investment fulfills a commitment to advance High School #14 in Elkridge that Ball made during his 2023 State of the County address.

These investments build on Ball’s previous progress creating the best teaching and learning environment. During the last five years, Ball: 

  • Secured funding to construct and open Guilford Park High School, which created more than 1,600 new seats. This is the first high school to open in Howard County since 2005; 
  • Moved the Hammond High School expansion project forward, increasing the size of the school by 235,000 square feet and creating 200 new seats; 
  • Directed $22 million in State pass-through grants to the Faulkner Ridge Center to renovate, revitalize, and reopen the center with 260 new seats for kindergarten; and 
  • Committed $13 million in State pass-through grants to the Applications and Research Laboratory to expand capacity and ensure more students can access world-class science, technology, engineering, and math programs. 

Howard Community College (HCC)
The proposed budget provides significant support to HCC for the construction of a new Workforce Development and Trades Center. The proposal includes $5 million in county funding and $3.6 million in college funding to leverage $8.6 million in matching state aid for this visionary project. 

“Our small businesses vary from cyber security to hospitality. Attracting and retaining our talented workforce means expanding the types of jobs available. This center will be a beacon of innovation and increase our economic vitality statewide,” continued Ball. 

Howard County Library System
The proposed budget includes $4 million for the renovation and expansion of the Elkridge Branch Library, and approximately $300,000 for the planning and design of a new Southwest Branch Library. 

“Funding the Howard County Library System is also critical to achieving our goals of providing a world class and holistic education to residents of all ages and abilities. This investment builds on our efforts to ensure access to learning and growing for residents of all ages,” said Ball. 

Community and County Facilities
The proposed FY25 CIP budget includes significant investment in community facilities and amenities. The highly anticipated North Laurel Pool project is set to begin construction this year through a monumental $20.1 million investment. This investment follows years of community advocacy and support for a new amenity that benefits residents of all ages and abilities. 

The proposed CIP also includes $11.5 million for a new Elkridge Community Center. Additionally, $2.5 million is dedicated to moving forward with an indoor track at Troy Park, in Elkridge. Coupled with investments in High School #14 and the Elkridge Branch Library, this proposed budget advances implementation of a robust civic district in Elkridge. 

“Elkridge deserves enhanced community amenities such as an indoor track, an expanded library, a community center, and a high school. These investments build on our promise to ensure premiere facilities that meet our community where they are,” said Ball. 

The Historic Circuit Courthouse in Ellicott City will undergo a major renovation and revitalization into a new Center for Arts, Culture, and History. More than $10 million in county, state, and federal funding has been dedicated to help transform the historic building into an arts and cultural hub. It will be the new site for the Howard County Center for the Arts, the first-ever Asian American and Pacific Islander Cultural Center, the award-winning Roving Radish program, and a shared commercial kitchen space. 

The County’s Rockland Arts building on High Ridge Road will also undergo $3 million renovations. It will become home for the Howard County Chapter of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, and it will be the first of its kind in the entire region. 

Additionally, Ball proposes $1 million toward a new public ice rink in Howard County. With a growing ice hockey and figure skating community, this facility will ensure residents have access to a high-quality facility close in Howard County. 

Infrastructure and Technology
Following the recent devastating floods of 2011, 2016, and 2018 in Historic Ellicott City, Ball continues to implement elements of his comprehensive Ellicott City Safe and Sound flood mitigation plan. This year’s proposed budget of $42 million leverages more than $26 million in anticipated grants and $15 million in anticipated low-interest resiliency loans. This funding will support the construction of the North Tunnel, the final design of the Maryland Avenue Culverts, and design of the New Cut Branch (NC-3) and the Tiber Branch (T-1) flood mitigation ponds.

Stormwater and flood mitigation goes beyond Ellicott City and extends to county-wide resiliency. Out of the 171 ponds in Howard County, 74 are rated in critical condition. An investment of approximately $13 million per year will address seven to eight ponds annually. 

“As we continue experiencing a high frequency of intense storms, it is imperative that we invest in resilient infrastructure to mitigate flooding and severe storms. Our Ellicott City Safe and Sound plan is becoming a national model for flood mitigation as we ensure that Ellicott City’s best days are ahead,” said Ball

As technology continues to evolve, it is imperative our systems remain secure, stable, and resilient. The proposed budget dedicates $12 million toward technology modernization and infrastructure projects. This includes $2 million for partnership to expand fiber network that lack reliable internet access.

The proposed budget includes a record $14.5 million in County funding to support pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. Two new capital projects will expand multimodal infrastructure and connections to Troy Park and Columbia Gateway. These investments will provide new infrastructure to continue implementation of the Howard County Pedestrian Master Plan, Bicycle Master Plan and Complete Streets Policy. Additionally, the County is committing $1.5 million to enhance and improve connections along school walking routes. 

As Howard County continues to grow its regional transit connections, this budget also dedicates more than $2 million to construct bus stations for the proposed extension of the Montgomery County FLASH bus rapid transit service that will connect Silver Spring and Downtown Columbia. 

Ball is budgeting $15.1 million, an increase of 18% from last year, in funds to address critical road resurfacing needs for the 1,066 miles of County roads to maintain an aging road network.

“We know that a thriving community is a connected community. Both the new infrastructure and maintenance of existing facilities provide significant safety, economic, environmental and health benefits for our community,” Ball continued. 

Public Safety
The newly acquired State Armory in Ellicott City, which is currently undergoing significant renovations, will eventually serve as a site for training and occupational safety and health services. The James N. Robey Public Safety Training Facility is reaching capacity, and this new $1.4 million project will help expand their services. 

Additionally, $5 million has been set aside for continued renovations to the Detention Center, including the construction of a new mental health unit, the design of a reentry and inmate training space and lobby security upgrades. 

The proposed budget includes $3 million for the North Columbia Fire Station, which will continue site and building design. An additional $4.9 million is proposed for the Replacement Fire Station 7 to advance land acquisition, planning, and design efforts in FY25.

“In Howard County, all our residents shouldn’t only be safe, but they should feel safe. These investments help build on collective efforts to prioritize public safety – enhancing our commitment to building a safe community,” said Ball. 

Recreation & Parks
Our beautiful park system will receive $12.2 million for various projects and renovations to existing facilities. Park projects include completion of Phase I of the Centennial Park West Area sports complex, improvements to Ilchester Park and Recreation Center, and an expansion of Howard County’s popular Community Garden Plot program. The proposed budget also dedicates funding to improve aging park infrastructure, including roadways, parking lots, and sports courts.

Finally, an investment of $400,000 will advance the design of new vibrant public garden, providing beautiful, reflective, and sustainable spaces for our community to enjoy.

“Our parks and natural resources in Howard County are unmatched, providing our residents and visitors with beautiful places to gather, recreate, and create memories. Through our continued investment in our park system, we will ensure that Howard County’s natural resources remain accessible and open to all,” said Ball.

The Howard County Council has scheduled public hearings on the CIP on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, and Thursday, May 9, 2024. A final vote on the budget is planned for Wednesday, May 22, 2024, at 12:00 p.m.

Media Contacts
Safa Hira, Director of Communications

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