The next-largest line item in the proposed $493.8 million county budget is public safety, at $96.1 million, followed by $82.7 million for general government, $49.3 million for debt service and $16 million for libraries.

"In order for us to reinstate your original request, we have to make reductions in other areas of the budget," Council President Billy Boniface told school officials.

Council members did not indicate during Thursday's meeting if any funds would be reinstated. By state law, the council can restore any of requested county funding that was eliminated by the county executive.

Capital projects

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School officials also presented a $60.1 million capital budget, to cover 18 ongoing projects at various stages.

Major sources of capital project funding include the state and county debt service.

Projects include HVAC upgrades at Magnolia Middle School, North Harford Elementary School, Norrisville Elementary School and Fallston High School, a roof replacement at George D. Lisby Elementary School in Aberdeen, stadium upgrades at Joppatowne High School, plus upgrades to the computer lab at Edgewood Middle School.

School officials also plan to fund a $4.8 million energy efficiency initiative, put $100,000 toward disabled access improvements, $350,000 for playground equipment and $1.2 million to replace school buses.

Major projects include $15 million toward the replacement of Youth's Benefit Elementary School in Fallston, $3.7 million toward the replacement of Havre de Grace High School and $13.6 million toward systemic upgrades at Joppatowne High School.

Licata, who presented the capital budget, said the state had granted planning approval to the replacement of Youth's Benefit, which will allow HCPS to complete the remainder of the design process.

Licata said the planning process was about 90 percent completed before the project was "deferred" in recent years.

He said the remaining design procedures, which involve updating plans so they conform to current state and county environmental codes, could take up to a year. Once the plans are complete and approved by the state, and all necessary permits are in hand, then the project would be eligible for construction funding.

"We're not eligible for state funding this year in terms of construction, because they won't grant funding that's going to sit in a fiscal year, so we're in the pipeline to receive the first installment of construction funds for Youth's Benefit in FY 2015," Licata told council members.

Councilman Richard Slutzky noted the process of replacing Youth's Benefit has been ongoing for 16 to 17 years.

Council members reviewed the Health Department budget Thursday afternoon, and are scheduled to have two more budget work sessions next week. The entire county budget must be approved by mid-June.