Council Approves $1.56 Billion Budget After ‘Diligent’ Review
County Executive Ken Ulman says limited changes to the budget reflect the county’s priorities of education, environment and public safety.
The Howard County Council approved a $1.56 billion budget for FY 2012 Wednesday and the proposed version went through “very few changes,” according to the county.
Public schools will receive about $512 million, an increase of more than $6 million over last year’s budget. In addition to a 3 percent increase in funding for Howard Community College, the total portion of the budget allocates about 65 percent of the funds to education.
“Our budget continues to focus on sound fiscal decisions and cost savings that allow us to invest in our key priorities: education, environmental protection and public safety,” said County Executive Ken Ulman in a press release.
In addition, for the first time in three years, the county eliminated the need for employee furloughs.
County officials said they anticipate a “modest” increase in income tax revenue, which gave Ulman breathing room to fund environmental protection pursuits.
In a work session last month, budget director Ray Wacks said up to $10 million would go to stormwater and remediation projects under the capital budget. This is 155 percent of the spending allowed for stormwater projects in FY 2010 and FY 2011, during which budgets never broke $4 million.
The actual amount allocated to these projects will be published when the final budget is released on the county’s website June 1.
“We must commit ourselves to solving the stormwater crisis,” Ulman said in his capital budget proposal.
Ulman said regulations are enforced on new construction projects to curb the effects of stormwater–-the water that does not percolate through soil but instead picks up chemicals from roadways and rooftops on its way to local waterways. But he said the added budget is needed to retrofit existing developments to put them within regulation standards.
Last-minute changes to the budget included adding $500,000 for the Howard County Police to improve school safety and $125,000 for youth programs in the Department of Recreation and Parks.