ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today unveiled his $2.4 billion Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25) operating budget. The General Fund budget totals $1.7 billion; other funds with restricted purposes total approximately $700 million. The spending plan contains historic funding for public education, public safety, the healthcare system, housing opportunities, non-profit service providers and more. Ball’s operating budget letter to the Howard County Council can be found here. Photos of Ball’s presentation can be found here.

This budget supports our priorities and the priorities of our community and does so without raising taxes or compromising our essential services. By fully funding the implementation of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future; ensuring all residents can build generational wealth in Howard County; and continuing our investments in public safety, environmental protection, public transportation and more, this budget builds upon our commitment to ensuring Howard County remains the best place to live, work, play, grow and thrive for all.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive


Howard County Public School System: Our commitment to public education includes $52 million above the state-required Maintenance of Effort funding to our school system. This is comprised of an increase of $40.7 million in recurring County funding to our Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) and a one-time PAYGO investment of $5 million for one-time transportation costs, pending approval from the Maryland State Department of Education. This operating increase of 6.2 percent to HCPSS brings the total County investment to $766 million.

When combined with state and federal funding sources, the funding for HCPSS exceeds $1 billion for the third year in a row, with this year’s total funding reaching a record $1.14 billion. This combination of recurring and one-time funding creates pathways to restore key educational programs that are valued by the community and fully funds the implementation of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future for FY25.

Howard Community College (HCC): Total funding to HCC in the FY25 budget will be $44.5 million. A proposed increase of $2.1 million for HCC, a five percent increase from Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24), continues to build upon the historic funding growth provided in last year’s operating budget. This is the second largest county increase to HCC in the last 15 years. During the last five years, County funding to HCC has grown by more than $9.5 million, supporting the unparalleled academic programs offered by the community college.

The proposed operating budget also directs one-time PAYGO funds to the Capital Budget in the amount of $5 million to support HCC’s Workforce Development and Trades Center.

Howard County Library System (HCLS): Total funding to HCLS in the FY25 budget will be $26.5 million. The budget includes $1.3 million in funding for HCLS, a five percent increase compared to his FY24 budget and the second highest increase in at least 15 years. In the last five years, funding to HCLS has grown by more than $5 million, ensuring that Howard County residents can continue to enjoy excellent services, materials and programs offered by the library system.

The proposed operating budget also directs one-time PAYGO funds to the Capital Budget in the amount of $4 million to renovate and expand HCLS’s Elkridge branch.


Police: The budget includes a proposed funding increase of $13.1 million for the Howard County Police Department (HCPD) to support its staffing needs and services. The budget also includes one-time funding of $850,000 for critical safety upgrades at HCPD’s indoor firing range, $629,000 for mobile data computers and monitor replacements, $201,000 for laser designators replacement and night vision systems, and $1 million for various other necessary supplies, equipment, and one-time needs.

Fire and Rescue: The budget includes funding to support the hiring of four additional firefighter recruits to staff two new peak load ambulances. These additional positions are vital as incidents and hospital wait times have increased. Since Ball became County Executive 94 authorized positions have been added to DFRS, compared to 57 in the previous four years. The budget also includes funding for gear and uniforms for 38 news firefighter trainees in classes that started spring 2024 and vehicle replacements, including engines and ambulances.

Supporting Public Safety: The budget proposal also includes one-time funding to support public safety retention or recruitment bonuses for various public safety agencies ($850,000), a one-time boost to volunteer fire stations to support various needs ($600,000) and a traffic calming pilot program to support transportation safety ($500,000).


Emergency Health: The proposed budget includes $5 million in one-time funds to initiate an expansion of the Johns Hopkins Howard County Medical Center’s Emergency Room. This funding will help build a much-needed 29-bed observation unit and is the first investment of a multi-year $15 million commitment to enhance the emergency department’s capacity, address hospital wait times and expand access to critical care in our community.

Additionally, to support our region’s emergency health system, the proposed budget also includes a $3 million investment in the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Behavioral Health: The budget contains a $1 million investment in Johns Hopkins Howard County Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Unit and $1 million toward Sheppard Pratt’s Crisis Stabilization Center. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for enhanced behavioral health services, and we continue to invest in this area to meet residents’ health care needs.

Community Lifesaving Support Tools: To continue the County’s efforts to help ensure Howard County is a model community for cardiac arrest survival, the budget includes $370,000 to expand the County’s impactful Automated External Defibrillator (AED) program with HCPD and Department of Recreation & Parks.

Nonprofit Support: The budget includes $13.5 million in operating support to non-profits through Community Service Partnership (CSP) grants. With a 6.9 percent growth from last year, this funding will support various organizations that provide critical human services, arts and cultural programs, and tourism promotion in the county.

Also, as prior funding sources such as federal and state COVID-19 grants and one-time funds gradually diminish, the budget includes $300,000 in one-time funding to support continued food access to Howard County’s vulnerable communities who are still experiencing food insecurity. Moreover, significant PAYGO funding is used to support one-time initiatives of different non-profits and government agencies. This one-time funding includes $250,000 for child support services through the Circuit Court and $144,000 to support the expansion of the Maryland Department of Human Services’ Howard County Department of Social Services highly utilized summer SNAP program.

Vibrant and Engaging Public Spaces: The budget includes a monumental $1.5 million to fund the planned Howard County Veterans and Military Families Monument at Vivian C. “Millie” Bailey Park in Downtown Columbia through a partnership with the Howard County Veterans Foundation. The budget also includes $1.5 million to launch a new Public Art program in partnership with the Howard County Arts Council. This program will bring exciting and inspiring public art displays to community facilities around the county.


Homeownership and Rental Assistance: To support our communities and create wealth for families through expanded homeownership opportunities and improved mixed-income housing availability, the budget includes $16.8 million for Department of Housing and Community Development programs. This includes $4 million for homeownership programs, $1.5 million to continue the County’s rental assistance programs for HCPSS families and HCC students and $1 million in home rehabilitation and repair programs.

This budget also includes $2 million is continue the County’s successful Right of First Purchase program, which is used to acquire, preserve, and create affordable housing units, and $2 million in gap financing to Enterprise Community Development for the redevelopment of Fall River Terrace, a mixed-income community in Columbia. These collective efforts will help grow homeownership, wealth-building opportunities, and access to affordable housing for families in Howard County.

Housing Opportunities Trust Fund: The budget proposes to move $10 million restricted funding held in current year contingency back to the Housing Opportunities Trust Fund to support programs and projects that meet the County’s housing affordability goals, including gap financing, rental and foreclosure assistance, and other affordable housing initiatives. These investments will continue current and future year efforts to expand access to affordable homeownership and rental housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income households.


Business Support and Development: To ensure the County is able to continue responding to emerging community needs, the budget includes $2.5 million in one-time funding to be allocated for an Economic Assistance and Emerging Needs fund. This builds on pandemic relief funds provided in prior years to support the needs of businesses, residents and nonprofit organizations that are recovering from the residual impacts of the pandemic and responding to other community issues.

The budget also directs more than $1 million in one-time funds to the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) to support its business development and employment growth programs. This includes $550,000 to expand its Business Revitalization Initiative Through Entrepreneurship (BRITE) and Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) programs, $200,000 to Cyber Howard and $150,000 to grow its business microlending program which started during the pandemic.

Additionally, to continue implementation of the County’s new General Plan, HoCo By Design, this budget includes $1 million to jumpstart Route 1 redevelopment efforts in partnership with the HCEDA. This was a significant recommendation in HoCo By Design, intended to spur redevelopment opportunities along Washington Boulevard.


Environmental Resiliency: Building on the County’s efforts to foster energy independence and strengthen environmental protection, the budget makes significant strides to implement Howard County Climate Forward: Climate Action and Resiliency Plan. This includes $1 million in funding to support the expansion of Howard County’s electric vehicle infrastructure and $250,000 to launch the County’s new Climate Infrastructure Rebate Pilot program. This new pilot program will create opportunities for low- and moderate-income households to make climate-friendly and energy efficient investments in their homes.

The budget also pledges more than $5.3 million towards initiatives that protect land with high ecological and environmental value. This includes $3 million for environmental land banking, $1 million to continue the Purchased Conservation Easement Pilot Program in partnership with the Howard County Conservancy, $1 million to reimagine the county’s forest conservation easement program to support environmental protection and $335,000 to achieve the County’s tree planting goals.


Public Transportation: The proposed budget includes $120,000 to expand the Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland’s (RTA) bus services between The Mall in Columbia and HCPSS’s Central Office, Homewood and Applications and Research Laboratory campus located on MD 108.

The budget also includes one-time funding of $600,000 for RTA bus replacements, $500,000 for five RTA bus purchases to help initiate four route expansions envisioned in the Transit Development Plan (TDP) 2023 and $600,000 for new bus purchases associated with expansion of Montgomery County’s FLASH bus rapid transit service, which will connect Silver Spring with Downtown Columbia.

Ellicott City Safe and Sound: The proposed operating budget directs an additional $1 million in one-time PAYGO funds to the Capital Budget to support Ellicott City Safe and Sound projects, leveraging $41 million in state and federal grants and low-interest loans.

Transportation-Related Repairs: This spending plan transfers more than $20 million in dedicated one-time PAYGO funds to transportation-related capital projects. This includes $15.1 million to address critical road resurfacing needs and maintain an aging road network, preventing costlier future needs and $5.4 million for sidewalk, bus stops replacement, road and bridge construction and traffic projects.

Expanding Recreational Opportunities: The proposed operating budget also directs one-time PAYGO funds to the Capital Budget as a cost-saving alternative to bond financing. Critical infrastructure projects supported by this transfer includes:

  • $20.1 million to construct the long-awaited North Laurel Pool;
  • $15 million on top of other local funding to enhance investment in school systemic renovation projects;
  • $15 million for planning, design, and land acquisition to support High School 14 in Elkridge;
  • $11.5 million for land acquisition, planning, and design for an Elkridge Community Center;
  • $7 million to renovate, revitalize, and reopen the Historic Circuit Courthouse as a new Center for Arts, Culture, and History;
  • $4.3 million for various Recreation and Parks projects, including $1.4 million for the Ilchester Park and Recreation Center;
  • $2.5 million to start the planning and construction for the Troy Park indoor track facility; and
  • $1 million to start the public ice rink facility project.


Innovation Grants: Building on efforts to keep Howard County on the cutting-edge and promote modernization, digital equity and innovation, the FY25 proposed budget includes $500,000 in funding for Innovation and Modernization Grants.

In addition, $342,000 in PAYGO is included to support grant writing and grant application tracking to maximize state and federal grant opportunities.

Updating an Aging Fleet: The budget includes $6 million in one-time funds to help address the backlog in County vehicle replacements, which carry higher maintenance and replacement costs as vehicles pass their useful life.

Increasing Efficiency and Streamline Services: The proposed budget funds the reorganization of the County’s Departments of Community Resources and Services, County Administration and Housing and Community Development. This includes the establishment of the County’s first-ever Office of Agriculture, the Office of Consumer Protection becoming a standalone office and Homelessness Services being shifted to DHCD. The reorganization better aligns homelessness services, agricultural programs, consumer protection services and opioid restitution efforts with the departments and offices that have the expertise in overseeing similar programs.


Supporting Our Employees: To retain the County’s workforce and recruit new staff, the budget provides needed cost of living and step increases for County employees. It also begins to address the critical classification and salary equity adjustments conveyed in the County’s forthcoming compensation and classification study.

During my State of Business Address earlier this year, I shared that Howard County had once again secured a AAA bond rating from all three credit rating agencies. Ranked among the top two percent of counties nationwide to earn this vote of confidence, this ranking reinforces our commitment towards strong fiscal planning, strategy and discipline. I would like to thank our residents, business leaders, community organizations and the County Council for the input shared throughout the budget process. I am especially grateful for our hard-working employees for maintaining essential services and addressing the needs of our residents.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive
Media Contacts
Safa Hira, Director of Communications

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