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Three Ways that Howard County Can Save Money and Reduce Debt

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Three Ways that Howard County Can Save Money and Reduce Debt

Hiruy Hadgu

My testimony on December 11, at the County Executive's FY2019 budget hearing.

The latest Spending Affordability Advisory Committee report states that the “County is committed to sustaining the quality of life and advantages that distinguish it” while meeting the challenges of maintaining great schools, continuing capital investment, providing safe communities and paying for existing County obligations.

In the same report, it states that, “The County’s debt service as percent of current revenues is expected to continuously increase due to increased current and future capital needs from HCPSS and the County".

Here is my testimony. Scroll down for the bullet points.

The County’s ability to deliver quality services is diminishing while the risk of higher County debt is increasing unless the following actions are reversed:

  • The County begins charging market-based school surcharge fees. Over the next 10 years, school construction will cost $300 million, while the developer’s school surcharge fees will not exceed $40 million.
  • The County needs to immediately stop giving free Columbia TIF money to developers. Nearly 80% of the initial project was for the garage, while 60% the final approved TIF money will cover projects that were initially not qualified.
  • The County should not approve the Savage Mills parkland swap that will give public land to a developer for private use. The developer’s land is not usable, while the parkland is buildable. In a region where land is scarce, it is unacceptable that a premium is not required.