Thursday, February 28, 2013
With billions of dollars of federal spending in the balance, local officials and business owners are sizing up the impact of the expected cuts.
As Maryland braces for the impact of the looming federal budget sequestration, many in Laurel are taking stock of how the city will weather the cuts. The sequester, which is set to begin March 1, will reduce federal spending in areas of education, military, health, and law enforcement, potentially putting a chokehold on job creation and important services for families and children. Because Laurel does not receive federal grants directly, Michele Saylor, director of the Department of Budget and Personnel Services, believes the sequester won't be a major issue for city finances. But, said Saylor, “the city government receives a portion of the income tax paid by the residents of Maryland. If [government workers] are furloughed and their …
Thursday, February 14, 2013
The county executive heard from more than 20 local residents at Tuesday's budget forum.
Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker told community members gathered at Laurel High School on Tuesday that 2014 would be a "very difficult budget year across the county," the Baltimore Sun reports. The event was the last of three public hearings Baker conducted across the county to discuss his proposed budget, which is due to be presented in March. The county executive heard questions and feedback from over 20 participants on topics ranging from library funding to school renovations to crime reduction, according to the paper. Baker also highlighted several of the improvements made since he took office, the Sun reports, including a substantial reduction in the homicide rate. Read more from the Sun.
Automatic cuts at the federal level could impact counties.
Howard County Budget director Ray Wacks told the County Council on Monday that if the federal government's AAA bond rating is downgraded due to federal budget problems, the county's bond rating could be downgraded as well, according to an Explore Howard report. Wacks told the council that Moody's believes jurisdictions with significant exposure to the federal government, such as through federal jobs, cannot have a higher bond rating than the federal government, reported Explore Howard. Howard County has kept a AAA bond rating, the highest possible rating, since the mid-1990s, an achievement Howard County Executive Ken Ulman touted in his recent State of the County address. The bond rating helps the county access lower interest rates on …
Friday, January 4, 2013
The budget is an increase of 2.5 percent over the fiscal year 2013 budget.
Howard County Schools superintendent Renee Foose presented a $721 million operating budget to the Board of Education Thursday that includes cuts in transportation and supplies while adding funds to pay for new staff, higher enrollment and mandatory increases in employee benefits and retirement costs. The proposed fiscal year 2014 budget is a 2.5 percent, or $17.4 million, increase over the fiscal year 2013 operating budget. The $489.4 million requested from the county makes up about 68 percent of the budget, and is a 1.5 percent increase from fiscal year 2013, according to Foose. There are a total of $9.9 million in cuts from transportation funds, supplies and the elimination of 12 positions through attrition, when retirees' positions …
Friday, May 4, 2012
Do you support the proposed tax increase?
Howard County Executive Ken Ulman is proposing a countywide fire tax of 17.6 cents per $100 of assessed property value in his fiscal year 2013 budget. The change would increase the fire tax rate by 52 percent for the western part of the county and 30 percent for residents in the east, if approved by the county council. The increase would largely go toward funding 41 new positions to staff the Glenwood Fire Station, which will open this year in Western Howard County, and a new paramedic unit for the Ellicott City fire station, according to an article in the Howard County Times. Raymond S. Wacks, the Howard County Budget Administrator, said the increase was needed to offset revenue losses from declining real estate assessments. He said even …
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Readers weigh in on hot topics in Laurel this past week.
Readers took to the Laurel Patch site this week, weighing in on everything from one state senator's call to move past gambling and the Laurel Council's push to pass its annual budget, and give more opportunities to minorities. Senator Muse on Gambling "The simplest solution would be to get rid of Mike Miller. He has had too much power for too long. Without him the gambling interest would not have a foothold." Laurel Council Begins Work on 2013 Budget "Gee, it's too bad that more realistic assessments caused that taxes collected last year to drop so much. My payments were going up 10% every year for the last ten years. What inflation index anywhere has risen that precipitously over the same period? They won't be able to blow smoke about …
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Budget remains mostly flat from previous year.
The Laurel Council is poised to begin discussing a proposed budget for the city for fiscal year 2013. This week city officials presented the first draft of the $25.7 million budget to the council. Slightly higher than the previous year’s budget by $471,000, planners said expenditures would be virtually flat. “We’ve been able to maintain services and make do where we need to,” said Michelle Saylor, director of budget personnel for the city. Last year, the city maneuvered around a $3 million budget deficit by freezing pay raises for city employees. But this year, Saylor said the city plans to partially reinstate raises, including merit-based raises, but will continue to hold off on cost-of-living increases. Saylor said that the city is …
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
The proposed budget supports more education funding, including potential teacher pension costs.
The county executive’s office has released its proposed operating budget for 2013–a $40 million increase over last year’s budget. Of the $1.54 budget, $898.8 million comes from the general fund, monies collected primarily from property and income taxes, along with other taxes and fees. The budget includes $878.2 million for education, which includes funding for the Howard County Public School System, the Howard County Library System and Howard Community College. The education budget is about 57 percent of the total operating budget, and a 3.9 percent increase from last year. Last year’s education budget, about $845.6 million, was a 5 percent increase over 2011. Included in the education portion of the budget is $9.8 million to cover half …
Monday, March 12, 2012
Jim Adams is making his first bid for the Howard County Board of Education.
Near the end of 2011, Jim Adams flipped on his television to the Howard County public access channel. What he saw, he says, disappointed him. Adams said he watched a back and forth argument among Howard County Board of Education members, and little to no progress on the issues on the agenda. "I tuned in and just saw how they were reacting with each other and it baffled me," Adams told Patch. "I was reading in the newspaper that other people felt the same way, and it just intensified my wanting to run for office." He has met a few of the current board members, and he says they appear to be nice people, which makes it tough to understand why some of them "can't get along." Adams, 70, moved to Ellicott City in 1978, and put two kids through…
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
The budget would create 93 jobs at the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, reports the Howard County Times.