ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today declared the State of Howard County to be “strong” as he outlined transformational plans for climate protection, food security, educator loan assistance and more during his annual State of the County address.

From Day One, we have laid out a bold, transformational vision to build the strongest community possible. We have prioritized our highly ranked and fully funded school system. We are award-winning environmental stewards. Our communities are safe, strong and accessible. And we have thriving businesses that are the backbone of our community.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

The full text of the State of the County address as prepared for delivery can be found here.

In the final annual address of his first term in office, County Executive Ball outlined a series of bold initiatives that he said are ready for implementation:

Climate Action: County Executive Ball said he has committed Howard County to a new goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sources by 60 percent by the year 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2045 through a combination of reduced emissions and increased carbon storage.

County Executive Ball also said he today signed an executive order creating a Climate Action Subcabinet in Howard County to oversee a new Climate Action Plan and ensure its goals are met. Today’s actions come just weeks after Howard County received recognition from the U.S. Green Buildings Council as the first certified LEED Platinum county under the current rating system for the organization’s Cities and Communities Program. 

Educator Loan Assistance: County Executive Ball said Howard County would launch a $1.5 million student loan assistance program for educators who commit to teaching in the Howard County Public School System, an initiative he said would help attract and retain the highest quality teachers.

The student loan program comes on top of a previous commitment of $16 million in retention bonuses received by education teachers and 80 pre-Kindergarten teachers in the past year.

Community College Scholarships: County Executive Ball announced a new $3.5 million scholarship program for students at Howard Community College that will target learners who are near completion of their studies but need additional help to succeed.

Food Security: County Executive Ball announced the expected launch of a Mobile Marketplace, a new expansion of the popular Roving Radish food program. The Mobile Marketplace will bring fresh produce and meats produced by local growers into the community.

Howard County has greatly increased food access for those in need, starting before the pandemic and continuing to date. In 2021, the Roving Radish distributed more than 12,000 meal kits, the most in the program’s history, and has been expanded to include a marketplace in the Long Reach Village Center.

Child Care Expansion: County Executive Ball said Howard County would make a transformational investment of $7 million to make childcare available and affordable outside of traditional business hours. The investment, he said, would remove barriers for families who have faced historic difficulties in accessing affordable childcare.

The investment will build on a commitment made this year that will enable the county’s Department of Community Resources and Services to open the county’s first family support center.

Aging Community: County Executive Ball announced that the AARP has approved Howard County’s plan to join the World Health Organization’s and AARP’s Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities. This designation comes atop Howard County’s recent investments to expand the Bain 50+ center and the upcoming expansion of the East Columbia 50+ Center. 

Transportation: County Executive Ball committed to completion of Howard County’s highly regarded pathway system that will improve and complete 20 miles of new infrastructure and improve public health.

In his address, County Executive Ball stressed recent data and accomplishments that he said clearly demonstrated the “strong” state of Howard County:

  • Public Safety: County Executive Ball noted that Columbia has been named the “Safest City in America” for five consecutive years, with violent and property crimes declining in key areas during the past four years. Robberies declined 46 percent between 2019 and 2021; assaults dropped 13 percent during that same period; and burglaries declined 33 percent. Data from 2022 show those trends continuing.
  • Finances: Howard County has retained its AAA bond rating from all three rating agencies, and under County Executive Ball has eliminated existing or projected deficits in the school system health fund and a dedicated fire fund, while also building reserves.
  • Economy: Howard County has emerged from the pandemic by adding 300 new businesses and continues to have among the lowest unemployment rate in the state.
  • Housing: Over the past four years, Howard County has supported the creation of more than 200 affordable units through tax credits, and work on projects such as the 76-unit Patuxent Commons is making Howard County a national leader in supportive housing for adults and families with disabilities.
  • Preservation and Development: Since County Executive Ball relaunched the Agricultural Land Preservation Program, Howard County has placed seven properties totaling over 300 acres into the acquisition pipeline for preservation, and Executive Ball announced that the purchase of the 21-acre Camp Ilchester property from the Girl Scouts has been completed. County Executive Ball also noted historic reductions in residential development activity, with proposed residential units declining by 73 percent compared to the prior three-year period; residential building permits issued declining by 33 percent; and approved development plans declining by 23 percent when comparing 2019 to 2021 to the prior three-year period. Approved development waivers have dropped by 30 percent under new guidelines established by County Executive Ball.

I am honored to serve as Howard County Executive. I am deeply appreciative of the continued confidence in our team.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive
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