Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New Money For Schools, Roads and Parks

HoCo Exec Ken Ulman releases his proposal for the capital budget, that's the one used to build things. Here's an excerpt from his press release:

The priority we place on education is clearly reflected in the $52.5 million in local funding dedicated to the School System. This total represents approximately half of the Capital Budget. Although it is not possible to fully fund the Board of Education’s request, funding is included for all projects that expand school capacity or continue renovations already underway. Funding is provided for Mt. Hebron High School, Northfield Elementary School, Bellows Spring Elementary School, Stevens Forest Elementary School, and Hammond Elementary and Middle Schools.

Howard Community College is also an essential part of our community’s educational partnership; and in this economy, more students are turning to HCC for an affordable, top notch education. The Capital Budget invests $4.3 million in Howard Community College, which will enable it to complete the renovation of the Student Services/Clark Building and proceed with important systemic improvements. We have included sufficient funding to move forward with the County match for the new Allied Health Building, should State funding toward that project become available.

There is also $14.4 million proposed for construction of the Miller Branch Library & Historical Center, making the County’s oldest library branch the newest. The addition of the Historical Center, in partnership with the Howard County Historical Society, will enhance the library and make it a valuable community resource.

Based on results of the Department of Fire & Rescue Services’ self-assessment which identified that response times needed to be improved and services enhanced in both the west and northeast areas of the County, the proposed budget provides $7.8 million for the construction of two fire stations and land acquisition. The first station will be constructed in Glenwood to help serve the Route 97 corridor, and the second will be constructed at the site of the Mayfield Highway Shop and serve as a temporary fire station and permanent logistics facility until land can be acquired and a new permanent station built near the intersection of Routes 1 and 175.

Once that station is built, the logistics facility will remain at Mayfield to help free up space in existing fire stations for emergency equipment. Though the stations will be built as long-term facilities with three bays, they will be designed to be “adequate and utilitarian” and based on a modular structure that reduces construction costs by millions of dollars.

While schools and libraries are critical to our quality of life, so are Howard County’s parks and recreation programs. Included in Ulman’s proposed budget is $5.3 million in bonds to move forward with the long-awaited development of Blandair Regional Park, $1.6 million in bonds for Troy Park to begin the design and construction of Phase I, and $1 million in bonds for North Laurel Park to construct park amenities around the North Laurel Community Center (ball fields, parking, skate spot, pavilion, basketball courts and playground).

Ulman’s budget also shows a strong commitment to maintaining and improving the County’s infrastructure. Road surfacing projects are included for a total of $4.5 million in pay-go funding; proposed resurfacing locations include areas around these Village Centers: Oakland Mills, Dorsey Search, Long Reach, and Owen Brown. The County is also proposing land bridge and storm drainage maintenance and upgrades for a total of $2.5 million.

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