Harford County Executive Glassman Announces Fiscal Year 20 Budget: Record Investments in Education and Public Safety; No Tax Increases

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County and State Funding Exceed Board of Education’s Budget Request

Harford
County Executive Barry Glassman released his fiscal year 2020 budget today and
issued the following statement:

“In
this first budget of my second term, we are building on our success in Harford
County with record-level funding for education and public safety, without
raising tax rates. In fact, in each of the past five years we have directed
funds to restore salary increases for our teachers and law enforcement totaling
$38 million. At the same time, we have identified efficiencies within our
budget to help restore salaries for our dedicated county employees. We have
also maintained our AAA bond rating, which keeps borrowing costs low for vital
capital projects such as roads, fire & EMS infrastructure, schools, parks,
and recreational facilities. This progress was made possible by following our
path to fiscal balance and responsibility in local government.”

For
the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2019, the county executive’s proposed general
fund operating budget is $595,380,000.

County and state increases exceed school board’s budget request

Operating
funds budgeted at $256,465,645 for Harford County Public Schools increase by
$10.7 million, the largest increase in a decade despite flat student
enrollment. When combined with state funding increases, which were not fully
reported in the school system’s budget, operating funding for FY 20 exceeds the
Harford County Board of Education’s request. County funding of $10 million is
directed by the county executive to raise instructional salaries and $650,000
is to strengthen mental health services with added support for school
psychologists. This significant funding increase from the county also qualifies
HCPS to apply for state “Kirwan” grants to further increase teacher salaries.

Harford
Community College’s requested 2% increase is fully funded.

Historic-level funding for public safety

In
accordance with the Harford County Sheriff’s Office Pay Plan, one step increase
and a 1% COLA are budgeted for law enforcement deputies and corrections
officers in addition to support for Harford’s volunteer fire companies
($7,037,245, representing a 2% increase), the Harford County Volunteer Fire
& EMS Foundation ($4,196,668), and to fully staff two ambulances for the
county’s EMS service ($2,165,168), supplementing VFC services. A contribution
of $250,000 is to assist Jarrettsville VFC with repairing its fire protection
pond.

Continuing reinvestments in employees who provide vital public services

The
county executive has budgeted a $2,000 merit-based increase per qualifying
Harford County government employee, and equivalent increases for employees in
the State’s Attorney’s Office, Circuit Court, and for Sheriff’s Office civilian
employees. This $2,000 increase will have a greater impact on lower-salaried
workers.

Record-level funding to fight the opioid epidemic and support
behavioral health

The
county executive’s budget dedicates a record $1 million targeting the opioid
epidemic and to support behavioral health.  County funding increases to $750,000
in FY 20 for treatment assistance, prevention, recovery coach training, the
24-hour hotline, and post-recovery support. To help families in crisis find
services at any time of the day or night, funding of $250,000 is budgeted for
the second phase of the 24-hour Harford County Crisis Center for Mental Health
& Addiction in Bel Air.

Strengthening community organizations

Support
for community organizations continues with increased funding for the Harford
County Humane Society, Harford Center, and The Arc Northern Chesapeake Region.
New this year, the Havre de Grace Colored School Foundation is budgeted to
receive $250,000 toward a planned museum and cultural center; and the Miracle
League of Harford County is slated for $250,000 to build a specially adapted
baseball field at Schucks Road Regional Park in Bel Air.

“I
am proud to support the Havre de Grace Colored School Foundation and its
mission to remember, promote and preserve the school’s rich history and
legacy,” County Executive Glassman said. “We are also proud to assist the
nonprofit Miracle League of Harford County, because every child should have a
chance to play ball.”

Capital projects

The
proposed $155,966,000 capital budget includes $42.8 million for eleven projects
requested by Harford County Public Schools. They include final funding for the
$100 million Havre de Grace Middle/High School; HVAC systemic renovations for
George D. Lisby and Roye Williams elementary schools; roof replacements for
Aberdeen Middle and Hickory Elementary; repairs to the North Bend Elementary
School central plant and fire alarm system; funds to replace special education
buses, and continued funding for technology, swimming pool renovations,
security measures, and athletic fields.

Public
safety capital projects totaling nearly $12 million are for volunteer fire
company priority repairs and life safety equipment, including renovations for
Whiteford and Aberdeen VFCs; a multi-agency public safety mobile command
center; construction of a county EMS station; funds to support Next-Gen 911
technology and upgrade the mobile/portable radio system, and funds to upgrade
public safety radio communications in school buildings.

Other
essential capital projects include $28.5 million for county road and bridge
projects; $10.9 million  for stormwater remediation projects; $6 million
to complete the Ma & Pa Trail connection; $4.7 million in water & sewer
infrastructure reinvestments; $2.5 million to support sports tourism through
improvements to parks & recreation playing surfaces, including Cedar Lane
Sports Complex, and $2.1 million for comprehensive upgrades to the Chesapeake
Center at Harford Community College.

The county executive’s total budget proposal for FY 20 is $903,164,125. The budget is published on the county website at http://www.harfordcountymd.gov/1531/Budget-and-Management-Research .

County
Executive Glassman concluded, “I would like to thank the many citizens who
shared their budget priorities with me through our fifth annual virtual town
hall meeting. These priorities helped to shape my budget priorities for next
year. I would also like to thank Director of Administration Billy Boniface, our
award-winning budget team and our county employees who work hard each day to
serve you, our fellow citizens of Harford County.”

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