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Howard County General looks to be added to county’s operating budget

Kate Magill
Contact ReporterHoward County Times

For the first time, Howard County General Hospital has asked to be added to the county’s annual operating budget, with a request for $3 million.

President Steve Snelgrove sent a formal written request to County Executive Allan Kittleman asking for the hospital to be included in both the county’s fiscal 2019 capital and operating budgets. The request came days before the county will host its first budget public hearing Monday night to hear public testimony about the county’s many budget proposals.

The hospital, which is part of the Johns Hopkins Medicine hospital system, is requesting $5 million from the county’s fiscal 2019 capital budget, which Snelgrove said will be put toward a $45 million, two-story expansion that will include new space for psychiatric care and observational units.

That $5 million represents a third of the money Snelgrove said the hospital is hoping to raise for the project through philanthropic fundraising from the community. The other two-thirds will be incurred by the hospital through debt and operational improvements.

Howard County General requested the same amount from the county’s capital budget last year, but it was denied by Kittleman. Snelgrove said he is concerned about the liklihood that the request will be fulfilled this year.

“If we don’t get the capital request, we’re going to have to try and raise more money in the community,” Snelgrove said. “[We’ll have to] look even deeper into the community for support. No health system can exist without the support of its community.”

On top of that $5 million, the hospital is asking for the first time this year to be included in the county’s operational budget, and to begin an annual $3 million in funding. Snelgrove said this money would go toward the necessary expansion of the hospital’s population health systems, to provide patients with care both in and outside the hospital’s walls.

Snelgrove said the hospital wants to create an expanded network of healthcare providers in the county through partnerships with agencies such as the county’s health department and the county’s local health improvement coalition.

“We’re trying to do something for our community to the standards that this community sets,” Snelgrove said. “We’re all siloed industries and what we’re trying to do is break down those silos so the patient progresses through those silos with great communication.”

Andy Barth, a spokesman for Kittleman, said “there is every reason to consider [the proposal],” but that it is too early in the budgetary process for the county executive to know whether either of the hospital’s requests can be fulfilled.

Budget Administrator Holly Sun said she had not seen the formal request or talked with Kittleman about the request yet. When the county assesses budget proposals, Sun said it looks at how the request aligns with the county’s “strategic priorities” and its financial capabilities that year.

All budget requests must be submitted to the county by mid-March, and the county executive will present his proposed budget to the county council in April. The council will then review the proposal and approve a budget in May.

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