ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced his proposed Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25) Operating Budget includes over $5 million in funding for a myriad of programs and initiatives geared towards advancing the Howard County (HoCo) Climate Forward: Climate Action and Resiliency Plan and strengthening the County’s environmental stewardship. Photos of the event can be seen here

From the way we source our energy, to how we protect our land and manage stormwater, we are implementing ‘Climate Forward’ strategies every day. To succeed in our mission to preserve our environment, be energy independent, and fight climate change, we must work together, as a community. Through this vital funding, we will continue to lead at the County level, while also making it easier for our residents to do their part.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

In June 2023, Ball unveiled HoCo Climate Forward, the County’s first climate plan since 2015. With an emphasis on climate resiliency and equity, the plan calls upon the county to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent, achieve 437 megawatts of solar capacity, attain 400 electrical vehicle (EV) charging stations and deliver “Feed the Green Bin” curbside composing to all county households by 2030. 

The best-laid plans alone are not enough to deliver real results. Progress requires investments in people and programs, like the ones County Executive Ball has proposed for FY25. This funding will help to ensure that the people of Howard County can continue to thrive in a community that is secure, prosperous, equitable, and sustainable.

Tim Lattimer
Administrator, Office of Community Sustainability

Building on the County’s efforts to foster energy independence and strengthen environmental protection, and his commitment to implementing HoCo Climate Forward, Ball has included $1 million in funding in his FY25 budget to support the expansion of Howard County’s EV infrastructure and $250,000 to launch the County’s new Climate Infrastructure Rebate Pilot program. 

“At a time when funding for the Watershed Stewards Academy expired, County Executive Ball came through with the funding needed to keep the Watershed Stewards Academy going,” noted Terry Matthews, Program Coordinator of the University of Maryland Extension Program’s Watershed Stewards Academy. “This has enabled us to do hundreds of assessments for property owners, neighborhood associations, and faith-based organizations, which helped them to put stormwater improvements on their properties.  I have hope that we will win the environmental battle.”  

With 23 EV vehicles already in the County’s fleet, this $1 million funding will allow for the purchase of 10 new EV’s in FY25, moving the County one-step closer to achieving its HoCo Climate Forward goal of a 42 percent electric fleet by 2030. Additionally, home to more electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles per capita than any other jurisdiction in Maryland, this investment will allow the County to significantly expand its number of EV charging stations.

The new Climate Infrastructure Rebate Pilot program will facilitate opportunities for low- and moderate-income households to make climate-smart investments in their homes, such as energy-efficiency upgrades, installing solar or transitioning from fossil-fueled appliances and HVAC systems to all-electric alternatives that are more climate-friendly.

“Climate change and the environment are not things we can ask scientists to solve for us.  We all have to do our part because our children, our grandchildren, and future generations depend upon us to leave them a planet they can live on,” said Brooke Abercrombie, Past Chair, Howard County Environmental Sustainability Board. “It is our responsibility to not only become educated about the environment, but to pass that education on and to support those in leadership who put forward the policies that will bring about the changes and actions that we need to take for our children.”

In partnership with the Howard County Conservancy, in July 2022, Ball launched the Purchased Conservation Easement pilot program. A first of its kind in the state of Maryland, the program provides financial incentives to non-profit property owners to preserve environmentally significant properties permanently. Since its inception, the program has permanently preserved more than 70 acres of environmentally sensitive non-profit owned land, including easements owned by the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church in Elkridge and North St. John’s Swim & Tennis Club in Ellicott City. In January of this year, Ball announced the program had earned the Maryland Department of Planning’s 2023 Maryland Sustainable Growth Award. To further the continuation of this award-winning program, Ball has included another $1 million in funding in his FY25 budget for this program, bringing the County’s total investment to $3.5 million. 

Ball also announced that the County would make a $100,000 grant to the Howard County Conservancy to expand its Nature Preschool program, which operates out of Belmont Manor in Elkridge. The funding will be used to identify an additional site to grow the program and serve the over 100 families currently on its waiting list. 

“We are so grateful for Dr. Ball’s environmental leadership. The funding announced today will help us grow important environmental programs like our Nature Preschool -- an innovative approach to early learning where children spend the majority of their day outdoors, with nature incorporated into everything they do,” said Meg Boyd, Executive Director, Howard County Conservancy. “Continued funding for our purchased conservation easement program, a first of its kind program, will help us continue to preserve streams, forests and historic landscapes around our county.”

Finally, Ball’s proposed FY25 Operating Budget also includes $3 million to purchase and “bank” land, supporting the County’s climate goals by protecting green space, streams, wetlands and forests.

Fighting climate change and embracing environmental sustainability extends beyond government. Residents also have a part to play, through daily habits like recycling or composting to improvements at their homes and in their neighborhoods to better manage stormwater. County Executive Ball’s FY25 operating budget continues investments for important partnerships that allow residents to be a part of local climate solutions.

“The County’s Community Stormwater Partnership enabled my neighborhood to put in rain gardens and other stormwater projects,” said Teresa Weathington Guzmán, 2024 Green Community Leadership Award Recipient.  “We also made space for neighbors to connect while we dug in the dirt together at our gardening events. This spring, as our new gardens come to life, we are all witnessing the beauty of what we created together.”

Since taking office, Ball’s administration has:

  • Reopened the Department of Planning and Zoning’s Agricultural Land Preservation Program (ALPP) program, investing more than $12 million in easements and preserving 362 acres of prime agricultural land from development.
  • Joined the “Bee City USA” coalition in 2019, becoming one of the first counties in the nation to become a “Bee City.”
  • Entered into the largest Solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) of any jurisdiction in Maryland. In the last four years, 16 projects have been delivered under this partnership and in the coming year, the County will add to that number with the construction of a 950-kilowatt parking canopy at Howard County Library System’s East Columbia branch and a new rooftop solar project at the County’s new East Columbia 50+ Center. When complete, this PPA will generate enough electricity to power 50 percent of the County total energy usage.
  • Planted 80,000 trees in the last five years alone.
  • Been designated a LEED Platinum community under the United States Green Building Council’s LEED for Cities and Communities certification program, becoming the first county in the nation to receive this designation.
  • Signed the Charge@Work pledge to increase workplace EV charging, becoming the first county in Maryland to sign the pledge.
Media Contacts
Safa Hira, Director of Communications

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