Howard County Executive Ken Ulman unveiled his fiscal 2014 capital budget proposal Monday, a $442.4 million spending program that includes the most funding for public school projects since Ulman took office in 2006.
After being briefed on the capital budget proposal, County Council members say they're happy to see the school system receiving more than $80 million.
County Council member Courtney Watson said she was “very pleased” to see the school system’s capital budget funded at its highest level in years.
"I think it is very good that we are funding education at a level that it needs to be at,” Watson said.
Council member Calvin Ball said he was pleased to see the investment in a new Elkridge Middle School and to see a continued commitment to Howard Community College.
“It’s [HCC] a vital component for education here in the county as well as a great community partner,” he said.
Ulman's capital budget allocates $81.4 million to the Howard County Public School System and $18.9 million to Howard Community College, up from $77.5 million and $13.5 million, respectively, last year.
"Because we've managed wisely, we can afford these critical investments," Ulman said in a statement. "With interest rates low, now is exactly the right time to commit to the future of our children and our communities, to protect our environment and to make sure we are maintaining what we already have."
The council will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget April 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the Banneker Room of the George Howard Building in Ellicott City.
Funding for the school system will support a new Elkridge Middle School, an addition at Running Brook Elementary and renovations at Atholton High, Longellow Elementary, Deep Run Elementary and Wilde Lake Middle.
Ulman has proposed $17.8 million be directed to Howard Community College for a new science and engineering building.
He also has proposed allocating $2 million toward a new library building in Elkridge.
Ulman's capital budget includes funds for a new home for the Howard County Economic Development Authority and the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship in downtown Columbia. It also includes funding for stormwater management and other capital improvements in Historic Ellicott City.
"The plan for Downtown Columbia is gaining momentum and we want to feed off that energy," Ulman said. "Putting our economic development engines in the heart of downtown will attract the entrepreneurial vitality we need."
Troy Regional Park is scheduled to receive $6.8 million in construction funding where ball fields and other amenities are expected to open in 2014. Blandair Park also is set to receive $6.9 million as its second phase of construction advances.
More than $14 million will be allocated for stormwater projects this year as a new state-required program to protect the Chesapeake Bay gets under way.
Nearly $10 million is scheduled to fund a new fire station in Elkridge.
Ulman has also allocated $50 million for agricultural land preservation in response to the growth tiers designation.