Harford County Executive Glassman Recommends FY 19 Budget With No Tax Increases, Record Investments in Public Safety, Education, Libraries

 

 

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman released his FY 19 budget today recommending no increases in tax rates and record-level investments in public safety, education, and libraries.  The final budget of the county executive’s first term also doubles funding to fight the opioid epidemic, increases school security measures, and invests a record $22 million to protect land from future development. The capital budget funds ongoing projects for the Ma & Pa Trail and the new Havre de Grace Middle/High School.

 

“I began my term leading Harford County on a new path to fiscal balance and efficiency because I’ve always believed that if you want to lift someone up, you’ve got to be on higher ground,” County Executive Barry Glassman said. “While this path has not always been easy, it has allowed my administration to direct a total of nearly $38 million over the past four years toward reinstating salary increases for our teachers, law enforcement and dedicated county employees, without raising taxes.  We have done all this at the same time we have restored our unassigned fund balance, maintained the county’s AAA bond rating and implemented the county’s first property tax credit for qualifying seniors and military retirees.”

 

The $571,575,000 general fund operating budget proposal directs 100% of new, ongoing revenue to education and public safety; nearly $1.2 million of which is committed to keeping children safe in Harford County Public Schools.  To fight the opioid epidemic, county funding is more than doubled over current levels and includes funds toward the county’s first 24-hour crisis center for mental health and addiction. County Executive Glassman established the county’s first funding for opioid prevention and treatment in the first budget of his term.  The new crisis center is planned in partnership with University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health, the Harford County Health Department and Healthy Harford.

 

As a sign of the recovering local real estate market, the FY 19 budget invests a record $22 million from local dedicated transfer tax revenue in Harford County’s agricultural land preservation program. This program protects farmland from future development.

 

The proposed $166,130,000 capital budget for FY 19 funds county road and bridge projects, stormwater remediation, priority repairs and life safety equipment requested by Harford County’s volunteer fire companies, and funds ongoing projects to connect the Ma & Pa Trail and build the new Havre de Grace Middle/High School.

 

The total budget proposal for FY 19 is $899,557,025. Highlights appear below:

 

Restoring Balance & Efficiency

 

No tax increases

 

100% of new, ongoing FY 19 revenue dedicated to education and public safety

 

County government efficiencies help fund other operations

 

Unassigned fund balance more than doubled over the last three years

 

AAA bond rating lowers borrowing costs; rating maintained due to strong management and realistic Capital Improvement Program

 

Reinvesting in our Workforce

 

2% COLA for all county employees plus a $2,000 merit-based increase to the base salary per qualifying employee

 

Equivalent increases for State’s Attorney and Circuit Court employees

Merit-based increase will have greater impact on lower-salaried workers

 

Funding equivalent to a 3% salary increase for Library employees; sets record-level funding for Harford County Public Library

 

$2.8 million to fully fund the Sheriff’s Office’s request for salary increases; totals $5.3 million over the last two years

 

$122,472 for the new Sheriff’s Office Cadet Program

 

Investing in Education

 

Record-level funding continues for Harford County Public Schools:

 

$245,815,645 in FY 19 operating funds for HCPS; total increase of $7.1 million over FY 18

$6.4 million of the total increase dedicated to raising instructional salaries, continuing our support for
teachers

 

$400,000 to Harford Community College for the county’s traditional 1/3 share of funding to support staff salary increases

 

Strengthening Communities

 

Preventing and treating opioid addiction:

County funding more than doubled to $610,000

Includes $250,000 toward the county’s first 24-hour crisis center for mental health & addiction

 

Historic-level funding for our first responders:

$6,964,084  Volunteer Fire Companies; represents a 3% increase over FY 2018
$3,546,668  EMS Foundation
$1,589,118  County EMS Service

 

Keeping our children safe in school:

$773,000 to expand existing School Resource Officer Program to remaining middle schools

$325,000 to fully fund requested school security camera upgrades

$100,000 ongoing annual funding to improve radio communications in schools

 

Agricultural preservation:

Record-level funding of $22 million from revenue dedicated to preserving agricultural land

 

Support for Community Organizations:

Harford County Humane Society

Harford Center

The Arc Northern Chesapeake

 

Capital Project Highlights

 

$15.2 million – County road and bridge projects

 

$11.4 million – Stormwater remediation projects

 

$24.5 million – Water & sewer infrastructure reinvestments

 

$1.6 million – Volunteer Fire Company priority repairs and life safety equipment; includes Whiteford and Joppa/Magnolia VFC renovations

 

$1 million – HCPS school technology

 

Ma & Pa Trail connection – continued funding

 

Havre de Grade Middle/High School – continued construction on $100 million project

 

Patterson Mill Middle/High School – begin funding for artificial turf field

 

Fallston Middle School chiller replacement

 

Aberdeen Middle School roof replacement

 

HCPS swimming pool renovations – continued funding

 

In a budget message released earlier today, County Executive Glassman concluded: “I would like to thank the many citizens who shared their budget priorities with me through our fourth annual virtual town hall meeting. These priorities helped to shape my budget priorities.   I would also like to thank my Director of Administration Billy Boniface, our hardworking budget team and our county employees who are dedicated each day to serving our customers, the citizens of Harford County.”

 

The county executive’s recommended FY 19 budget must be approved by the County Council. The complete budget proposal is published on the county website at http://www.harfordcountymd.gov/1531/Budget-and-Management-Research.

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