Howard County Times
Howard County

The state of the county is sound [Editorial]

The time-tested recipe for the county executive's annual state of the county address is straightforward: one part victory lap, a few dollops of vision, a pinch of humor and a drop or two of humility.

Allan Kittleman didn't veer from tradition when he delivered his remarks last week, proving once again he is a seasoned politician who continues to navigate a moderate, fiscally responsible course with a deft hand at dealing with crisis, whether it's a deadly flood, a polarizing County Council debate over immigration policy or the managed ouster of a sheriff.


The county executive's address, lacking a deep dive into policymaking, appeared to resonate with a friendly audience of businesspeople.

He embraced a fresh vision for downtown Columbia as it celebrates a golden anniversary, supported jobs programs and is calling for a new branding of the Columbia Gateway business and technology campus as a center of innovation and commerce.


As alarms continue to sound over heroin-related deaths, the executive said his upcoming proposal for the county's next construction budget will include money for an outpatient detox clinic. A further step Kittleman should consider would be to back a residential treatment center, perhaps collaborating with the private sector, as Howard is one of the few larger counties in Maryland without a longer-term inpatient facility.

Assembly of Howard's budget plan for the year ahead is underway and midway through his term, Kittleman's track record has been disciplined. Looking forward, one goal should be to hold or reduce the county's property tax rate, or follow the state's constant yield tax recommendations, while continuing to push greater efficiency in government operations.

The county executive also needs to weigh in as recommended changes to the county's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance advance through hearings. A commission has made 18 suggestions for changes in the rules, designed to act as a circuit breaker so development doesn't outpace the ability of schools, roads and emergency services to keep up with growth. The update is overdue and will provide clarity and guidance to developers and residents alike.

Kittleman deserved the moment to bask in the glow from a successful, prosperous county with low unemployment, a top-shelf school system and quality services and amenities. The state of the county is sound.