Howard County officials opened the fiscal 1989 budget season this week when they forwarded $596 million worth of capital projects to the county planning board, including plans for a new library, police and fire stations, a $10 million county government office building, a halfway house for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, and an expansion of the county jail.
The requests represent the brick-and-mortar "wish list" of all county departments and agencies with the costs spread out over five years. It still must win approval of the planning board, County Executive Elizabeth Bobo and the county council.
The board, which reviews all new public works projects as part of the annual budget process, is scheduled to hold a public hearing Feb. 19 before making recommendations to Bobo.
Under the budget process, Bobo must send her capital budget to the council in March and her operating budget by the end of April, and the council must review the whole package by the end of May.
If approved, the proposals would cost the county $73 million next year, an $11 million increase over this year's capital spending. Public Works Director James Irvin cautioned, however, that "there are going to have to be some cuts" since the county executive has already pledged to finance the projects using no more than $33 million in bonds, which generally account for slightly more than half of the capital budget.
Included in the requests is almost $600,000 to study and do preliminary work on a new county government office building. County Administrator William Eakle said officials have not yet decided whether it would be better to lease space or construct a new building to relieve office crowding. Nonetheless, he is seeking $10.4 million in the five-year budget for construction in fiscal 1990 just in case.
The list also includes $6.7 million to expand the number of beds at the county Detention Center in Jessup. The plan, to be completed in two phases, would increase the capacity of the 150-bed jail by one-third in fiscal 1990, and calls for money to begin planning for another 93 beds beginning in fiscal 1994.
The county Health Department has asked for $250,000 to match a state grant they are expecting to receive for a residential halfway house for 15 recovering alcoholics and drug addicts.
Frank McGloin, director of the county's alcohol and drug treatment center, said the facility, the first of its kind in the county, would give individuals a place to stay for six to nine months after getting out of a 30-day treatment program. No site has been selected for the project, he said.
The list of new projects also shows plans to build a 33,600 square-foot branch library on four acres of land in East Columbia. About $1 million would be included in next year's budget to purchase land and begin planning the project, which would cost $6.3 million by the time it is completed in 1991.
Police and fire officials have agreed on a site for a joint training facility for their employees and have asked for $1 million to purchase 64 acres in rural Cookesville, at Rte. 144 between Rtes. 97 and 94.
Howard Community College officials have apparently withdrawn their proposal for a $6 million cultural arts center, but are still hoping to get $4.2 million for a continuing education center.
The planning board and the county council have already given preliminary approval to the $20 million capital budget requested by the Board of Education, which includes money to build a middle school in the southeastern section of the county, to begin planning on a new elementary school in the Ellicott City area, and to make additions on several existing schools that are filled to capacity.
Historic Ellicott City is the focus of several proposed projects. The Office of Planning and Zoning has asked for $45,000 to update a 1980 study of parking and transportation needs along Main Street.