Howard County Executive Calvin Ball has unveiled a proposed $379 million Capital Improvement Program, a construction budget for fiscal 2024 that includes money for education, flood control in Ellicott City, libraries, public safety, transportation, parks and recreation and aging infrastructure.
The CIP fully funds the Board of Education’s capital funding request of $51.6 million in county funds.
It also includes $11 million for the proposed Lakefront Library in Columbia; $44.7 million for the design and construction of flood alleviation projects in Ellicott City; $2.6 million in renovations for the Detention Center; $12.8 million for road resurfacing projects; and $18.8 million for park improvements.
Ball said the proposed capital construction budget for fiscal 2024, which begins July 1, is intended to keep the county thriving.
“Our bold, yet prudent investments will advance critical projects to deliver an excellent quality of life for all to live, work, play and grow,” Ball said in a news release. “These efforts help maintain Howard County’s position as one of the best managed jurisdictions in the nation, as illustrated once again by our AAA bond rating. Due to our sustained fiscal discipline, we are making historic progress in education, public safety, transportation, and more to build a better future for all in Howard County.”
The County Council must review and approve the final capital budget. The first public hearing on the CIP will be held at 6 p.m., April 18, in the George Howard Building’s Banneker Room, 3430 Court House Drive in Ellicott City. Other work sessions on the capital budget are set for April 19, 21, and 26.
Additional public hearings will be held in May, with a final vote slated for May 24.
The budget fully funds the Board of Education’s capital funding request for the second consecutive year. It totals $67.7 million, which includes county funding of $51.6 million and state aid of $16.1 million.
The school board’s priority projects that are slated to receive funding include:
- Guilford Park High School ($7 million), expected to open this fall with 1,658 seats for students.
- Oakland Mills Middle School renovation/addition ($4.4 million), adding 195 spaces in classroom capacity.
- Dunloggin Middle School renovation/addition ($4.5 million), adding 233 spaces for students.
- Renovations across the school system ($26.3 million), including: HVAC and infrastructure systems at Jeffers Hill Elementary School, Manor Woods Elementary School, Forest Ridge Elementary School, St. John’s Lane Elementary School, Atholton Elementary School, and Lime Kiln Middle School; indoor air quality and security upgrades; and turf field replacements.
- IT investments ($5.5 million).
- Various school needs ($3.9 million), including roofing, relocatable classrooms, playground equipment at various schools.
In collaboration with Howard County Public Schools, Ball prioritized state pass-through funding of $35 million to immediately advance a new regional pre-K center, fully funding a complete renovation of Faulkner Ridge Elementary School ($22 million) for the purpose of expanding early childhood placements. The funding also includes plans for a complete renovation and expansion for career and technology education at the HCPSS Applications and Research Laboratory ($13 million).
The proposal provides $13.3 million in county funds to Howard Community College for the construction of a new mathematics and athletics complex, plus another $1 million for systemic renovations.
Ellicott City Safe and Sound
In the wake of deadly storms in 2011, 2016, and 2018, that flooded Ellicott City, Ball’s CIP budget calls for $44.7 million in combined grants and county funding. The work includes the design and construction of the Extended North Tunnel, Maryland Avenue culvert, and several retention ponds.
“Our emphasis on stormwater and flood mitigation infrastructure goes beyond Ellicott City and extends to county-wide resiliency,” Ball states in the document. “The FY24 proposed budget dedicates an additional $500,000 for vulnerable watershed restoration and resiliency throughout the county, targeting various neighborhoods that are experiencing localized drainage issues.”
“Also included is $17.8 million for maintenance and upgrades to many existing stormwater management ponds to replace deteriorating outlet structures, making these ponds safer and more resilient in the face of global climate change,” Ball said.
Ball’s budget includes $12.8 million for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. Of that, $9.6 million will provide new infrastructure to continue implementation of the Howard County Pedestrian Master Plan, Bicycle Master Plan and Complete Streets Policy. The rest will be used to repair and maintain sidewalks and curb ramps. Both the new infrastructure and maintenance of existing facilities are intended to provide safety, economic, environmental and health benefits for the county.
The budget includes $1 million for improvements to enhance health and safety at fire stations, including a truck bay expansion at Fire Station #2 in Ellicott City, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning replacement at Fire Station #3 in West Friendship.
The acquisition of the State Armory in Ellicott City is expected to be completed this spring, with $1 million proposed in fiscal 2024 to renovate part of the building for use as logistics storage for the Department of Fire and Rescue Services.
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This new storage area is intended to free up space at the James N. Robey Public Safety Training Facility, to expand training and occupational safety, and health services, Ball’s budget states.
The proposed budget also includes $2.6 million for continued renovations to the Howard County Detention Center, including the second phase of window replacements, new exterior wall refacing, the design of a new mental health unit, and a fingerprint office renovation.
Recreation and Parks
The budget proposes $18.8 million for the construction and renovation of additional parking lots, pathways, sports courts, historic sites, and continued work along the Savage Mill Trail. It also includes improvements to the Centennial Park boat rental decking area; Warfield’s Pond Park pier decking replacement; West Friendship Farm Museum; and the scheduled replacement of three synthetic turf fields. The budget also includes $5.3 million for the East Columbia Library Park project, and $150,000 for the development of a COVID-19 memorial at Meadowbrook Park.