ELLICOTT CITY, Md. - Howard County Executive Ken Ulman has proposed a $1.026 billion budget for 2015 that includes a $33 million increase for public education.
Nearly three-quarters of Ulman’s operating budget proposal, released Monday, goes to funding schools and public safety. It also includes funding for a 3 percent cost-of-living increase for general county employees and freezes property and income tax rates.
“This budget reflects the priorities of our community, and the progress we have made over the past eight years,” Ulman, who is in his final year as county executive, said in a news release. “Howard County residents rightly place a high value on education and public safety, and we are able to make important investments in those areas because of responsible management and a healthy local economy.”
Ulman’s operating budget includes $530.4 million for higher education, a $33 million increase from 2014. It’s the highest amount ever budgeted for Howard County schools.
Funding for the Howard County Police Department would increase 6.42 percent, or $102.5 million, in Ulman’s proposal. His plan includes funding for 14 additional sworn officer positions, and four new civilian positions.
Ulman’s budget also funds several mental health programs in response to the double murder-suicide at The Mall in Columbia in January. One of the new police department positions will focus only on mental health cases, working directly with the county’s mental health coordinator.
Ulman unveiled his $259.9 million capital spending plan for 2015 on April 1. General obligation bonds would fund $119.7 million of that plan.
The proposed capital budget also includes $55 million in county funding for public schools, the highest local amount in six years.