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Howard County Council Legislative Record Tracker - Recess Edition

News

Howard County Council Legislative Record Tracker - Recess Edition

Hiruy Hadgu

The County Council is in recess for the month of August. Before it left for recess, the County Council voted on a whole host of issues that will have a lasting impact on our county.

It is often not easy to identify the impact (positive/negative) and magnitude of their actions. This legislative record tracker attempts to achieve this goal. The tracker scores certain county council and county executive actions based on how their votes impact the budget, school quality, affordable housing, and accountability.

From their votes in the last session, this tracker looked at three bills.

First the table. It shows the cumulative impact of each county official’s actions. Three council members appear to vote in tandem with the county executive. Their actions also appear to be detrimental on the budget, affordable housing, school quality, and accountability.

As a taxpayer if you wonder why we have a budget mess, look no further than these votes.

As a parent if you wonder why schools are overcrowded, look no further than these votes.

As a voter if you wonder why little trust exists in the county process and accountability, look no further than these votes.

As a resident who wants cares about affordable housing, if you wonder about why we lack it, look no further than these votes.

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CB17-2019 - AN ACT altering the number of consecutive years a project or phase of a project must be retested each time the County Council adopts new annual housing unit allocations and school capacity charts under the school capacity test of the Adequate Public Facilities Act of Howard County; and generally relating to the testing of residential subdivisions and site development plans for adequate public school facilities.

How is this bill scored?

  • Budget: Yes = +2, No and Not Present = -2

  • School Quality: Yes = +2, No and Not Present = -2

Justification: The current number of years a residential project is expected to be on hold while schools are overcrowded would have been increased by this bill to seven years instead of the current four years. This bill provides breathing room to the county to manage its resources and build the appropriate infrastructure. This would have significant impact on the budget and school quality. Councilman Jones was not present for this vote. Based on his recent records there is little doubt he would have voted in support.

CR97-2019 - A RESOLUTION approving the terms and conditions of a Payment in Lieu of Taxes Agreement by and between the Howard County, Maryland and Robinson Overlook Limited Partnership, a limited partnership of the State of Maryland, for a rental housing development to be known as Robinson Overlook, and finding that the Development meets the requirements of certain Special Affordable Housing Opportunities.

How is this bill scored?

  • Budget: Yes and Not Present = -1, No = +1

  • Affordable Housing: Yes and Not Present = -1, No = +1

  • School Quality: Yes and Not Present = -2, No = +2

Justification: This resolution would help bypass the APFO legislation requirements for school capacity. While this project adds minimal affordable housing to Howard County, the process by which it is achieved creates distrust in the process and undermines future affordable housing projects. The public does not trust the process and undermining a system designed to manage growth to provide marginal affordable housing while Howard Hughes and other major developers are allowed waivers and loopholes is hollow and detrimental. While Councilman Jones was not present for this vote, he did not express any concerns with the resolution.

CR108-2019 - A RESOLUTION calling on the Maryland State Department of Education to contract for a performance audit of the Howard County Public School System and specifying the issues requested to be studied.

How is this bill scored?

  • Accountability: Yes and Not Present = +2, No = -2

Justification: This resolution would improve accountability in the county. The school system consumes most of the county’s budget. Provided the findings are shared with the public this increases trust in government. While Councilman Jones was not present for this vote, he did not express any concerns with the resolution.