Howard County’s delegation to the Maryland legislature has approved nearly $2 million in state funding for county projects, ranging from renovations to Columbia’s Gateway Innovation Center to the county’s Harriet Tubman Community Center.
The 12-member delegation approved seven bond bills for $150,000 to $500,000 last week.
The largest project calls for $500,00 to redevelop the former Harriet Tubman School in Ellicott City into a community center and museum, a project that has languished for more than two decades.
Democratic Del. Frank Turner, a champion of the project since its inception, called the funding approval a “step in the right direction.” He said that while the state often does not fully fund bonds, he hopes to see the center granted at least $300,000.
Other projects include a $175,000 request for the Ellicott City Public Arts Project, a $250,000 request from the Lisbon Volunteer Fire Department and $150,000 for the Ellicott City Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Station and Museum. Fund recipients are required to either repay the bonds over time or provide the state with matching funds.
The bond bills will be introduced to the full House and Senate and assigned to committees for review. If they are approved, they will be rolled into the General Assembly’s capital budget bill as line items. All bond bills will be heard by the Appropriations Committee and Budget and Tax Committee on March 10.
In their weekly session, county delegates also advanced a bill to increase salaries for the Board of Education, raising the chair’s annual salary from $17,000 to $18,000 and board members from $15,000 to $16,000.
They also approved a liquor bill to create a $500 Class C liquor license to allow locations to sell beer, wine and liquor for consumption on the premise.
The next delegation work and vote session will be on Jan. 31. The main item on the agenda is a bill to raise surcharges for developers who want to build in densely populated areas of the county; it is the first legislation the delegates have considered related to the county’s update of its Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance.