The Howard County Council voted unanimously to adopt capital and operating budgets for fiscal year 2016, which total about $1.4 billion combined.
This year's budget reels in the county's borrowing by $24 million while funding a long-awaited library and senior center for Elkridge, new mental health initiatives and construction of an elementary school in the southeast, among other projects.
Councilmembers agreed on most of the tweaks they made to the budget proposed by County Executive Allan Kittleman, which largely remained intact. But two of the council's Democrats argued schools -- which received a total of $776 million in state and county funding -- should have been given a little more.
An amendment from Councilmembers Calvin Ball, of east Columbia, and Jen Terrasa, who represents the county's southeast, sought to move $7 million from the county's annual other post employment benefits, or OPEB, contribution to pay for renovations to Oakland Mills Middle School, fund new playground equipment and provide some money for teacher raises.
Howard County Public Schools Superintendent Renee Foose told the council earlier this week that the school system didn't have room in its budget to fund a pay step or cost-of-living increase for its staff this year. The school system and teachers' union recently declared an impasse in negotiations over salary and benefits for next fiscal year.
Another last-minute change to the budget allotted $100,000 in funding for the Patapsco Heritage Greenway, the local group charged with promoting the historical and environmental heritage of the Patapsco Valley, which straddles the line between Howard and Baltimore counties.
Friday afternoon, Kittleman said he was pleased with the council's vote.
"I submitted a lean, sustainable budget to the County Council for FY 2016, which was balanced, yet funded our shared priorities," he said in a statement. "I am confident that we are prepared for future challenges and the County will head into Fiscal Year 2016 on sound fiscal footing."