No Tax Increases, Record Investments in Public Safety, Education, Libraries
Harford County Executive Barry Glassman released today a recommended county budget for fiscal year 2018 which includes no increase in tax rates yet provides record level funding for public safety, education and libraries. The county executive’s proposed $543 million dollar general operating budget continues his efforts to restore salaries for teachers, law enforcement and the other public employees who provide vital services to local citizens. The proposed $119 million capital budget invests in crucial infrastructure, school technology, the new Havre de Grace Middle/High School replacement project, and begins funding to connect the popular Ma & Pa Heritage Trail.
“Three years ago we began on a new path forward to restore fiscal responsibility and balance to local government. It has not always been easy, but I am proud that we have followed this path to reinvest in people. In fact, since taking office, my administration has eliminated 122 positions within county government and implemented efficiencies in every county department. This has allowed us to direct more than $24 million over the past three years toward restoring salaries for teachers, law enforcement and other employees who serve our citizens and improve lives in Harford County.”
The $543,100,000 general fund operating budget for FY 18 directs 83% of new revenue to public safety and education. The operating budget includes full funding for the first year phase-in of a pay plan for law enforcement and corrections personnel in the Harford County Sheriff’s Office. Full funding is also provided for Harford Community College. In addition, Harford County Public Schools are funded at more than $5 million above the required Maintenance of Effort with $5 million directed to increase teacher salaries. Funding is also increased for agricultural land preservation, heroin prevention and support services, and historic preservation. Lastly, and at no increased cost to the county, the operating budget includes paramedic positions and a medical director to support public safety in a new Emergency Medical Services Division under the Department of Emergency Services.
The proposed $118,980,000 capital budget for FY 18 includes significant investments in roads, bridges, water and sewer infrastructure, and storm water remediation projects to improve the environment, and promote economic activity and job growth. The capital budget also follows through on the Glassman administration’s plan to begin construction of the new Havre de Grace Middle/High School while maintaining the county’s highest possible Triple-A bond rating. Technology funding is provided for public schools along with requested projects for Bel Air Elementary School, North Harford High and HCPS swimming pool renovations. After securing the missing piece of property needed to link the two sections of the Ma & Pa Heritage Trail, County Executive Glassman has also proposed capital funding to begin work on the connection.
In his budget message released today, the county executive concludes:
“The driving force behind this proposed budget is my administration’s dedication to serving our citizens with ‘smartphone’ efficiency, transparency and accountability. I am proud of our award-winning achievements over the past year for our new online services and comprehensive heroin prevention campaign. In addition, we have implemented customer service training for all county employees, achieved the second highest job growth in the state, expanded service hours at the county landfill, completed a successful update of the countywide master plan known as HarfordNEXT, preserved historic Harford County structures and raised volunteerism among county employees. In all we do, we seek to enhance the quality of life in Harford County for today and for our next generation.
I want to thank the many citizens who shared their budget priorities with me through our third annual virtual town hall meeting. Their priorities helped shape this budget proposal. I also want to thank my Director of Administration Billy Boniface, our budget team, and our valued county employees who work hard each day to serve our customers, the citizens of Harford County.”
Overall, the total combined operating and capital budget for FY 18 is proposed at $811,067,600. The entire budget is published on the county website at http://www.harfordcountymd.gov/1531/Budget-and-Management-Research. Budget highlights appear below.
RESTORING BALANCE & EFFICIENCY
- No tax increases
- Realistic six-year Capital Improvement Program; maintaining Harford County’s Triple-A bond rating
- Rightsizing the county workforce, eliminating 122 positions since December 2014, and operating within our means
- County government efficiencies have allowed us to dedicate 83% of new FY 18 revenue to education and public safety
REINVESTING IN OUR WORKFORCE
- Merit-based salary increases of 4% per qualifying county employee
- Increased funding equivalent to 4% for employees in the Harford County Public Library, State’s Attorney’s Office, EMS Foundation, Sheriff’s Office civilian personnel and Circuit Court system
- $2.2 million to fully fund the first year phase-in of Sheriff’s Office Pay Study for Law Enforcement and Corrections Personnel
INVESTING IN EDUCATION
- Record level funding continues for Harford County Public Schools:
- Operating funding for Harford County Public Schools at $238,715,645 or $5,447,307 above the Maintenance of Effort requirement
- Support for teachers, with $5 million in increased funding dedicated for instructional salaries
- Fully funded Harford Community College request at $850,000
- Increased county funding for prevention of heroin addiction and related support services
- $4.6 million for Agricultural Land Preservation
- Record level funding for Harford County Public Library
- New EMS division under the Department of Emergency Services consisting of 16 paramedic positions and a medical director at no increased cost to the County
- New VFC Ladies Auxiliary Service Program
- Contributions to historically preserve the Hosanna School Museum and McComas Institute
CAPITAL PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS
- $15 million investment in county road and bridge projects
- Storm water remediation projects funded at $6.25 million
- Full funding to replace North Harford High School’s artificial turf field
- $650,000 towards priority repairs for Volunteer Fire Company facilities and life safety equipment
- Reinvesting in water & sewer infrastructure: $10.9 million
- Funding to connect the Ma and Pa Heritage Trail
- Construction to begin in 2018 for the $99.2 million Havre de Grace Middle/High School replacement project
- Funding to complete the $7.6 million Bel Air Elementary School HVAC System and Open Classroom Conversion project
- $1 million in funding for school technology in HCPS
- North Harford High School Aquaculture Lab and Greenhouse project funded at $830,000
- Fully funded FY 18 and FY 19 request from HCPS for Swimming Pool Renovations