Capital Improvement Plan - Planning Board Presentation
January 17, 2013
Chairperson Gilliss, Vice-Chairperson Miller, and members of the Baltimore County Planning Board, thank you for providing me with the opportunity to speak to you today.
As the experienced members of this Board are aware, this year is considered an “off-year” cycle in the biennial capital budget process. An off-year usually requires minimal adjustments since the bond distribution and funding levels requiring voter approval for Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) were established during last year’s budget formulation process. I’m pleased that the voters of Baltimore County approved the $255 million bond amount presented to you for FY14 in the November general election.
Increased Education Funding
I would like to take a moment to talk about the formulation of the borrowing referendum. Many of you will recall that last year, in this forum, I advised you that I had directed staff to perform a comprehensive review of the capital budget in an effort to increase funding for education. That successful review allowed $149 million to be dedicated to school projects in FY14. This is a 42 percent increase over the previous referendum and represents nearly 60 percent of the total FY14 bond funding.
The FY14 school request includes funding for school renovations, elementary school additions, air conditioning projects, a new elementary school and other capital improvements. Our new school superintendent, Dr. Dallas Dance, will be able to provide greater detail on these projects when he appears before you. I reference these projects now in order to let you know that on January 7, 2013, a supplemental appropriation totaling $7.3 million was submitted to the County Council to allow Baltimore County Public Schools to access the bond funds sooner. If approved, the school system will have the funds necessary to begin design now on these important capital improvements rather than wait until July 1, 2013.
In addition to these specific capital requests, Chief Johnson is currently working with the security team from Baltimore County Public Schools to conduct a complete security analysis of our school buildings. As that review moves forward, there may be specific recommendations that involve additional funding requests that I would submit to the County Council for approval. The initial phase of that review should be completed in the next few weeks.
Last week Governor O’Malley held a press conference at Overlea High School to announce that his administration will propose spending $336 million in school construction aid in FY14, including $25 million targeted for air conditioning projects. Baltimore County Public Schools has submitted a State request of $123 million, including $17 million for air conditioning projects. To date we have been advised that Baltimore County is recommended to receive $23.8 million of the request. I will be working with our delegation in Annapolis to secure additional State funding.
Construction and Infrastructure
Moving away from schools, I’d also like to bring to your attention that the January 7 supplemental appropriation request also includes $6.9 million to expedite the County’s contribution for infrastructure improvements and the construction of the second garage at the Owings Mills Transit Center. This completes Baltimore County’s contribution to the project. Providing funding for the infrastructure and second parking garage ensures all the components are in place for the development to be successful.
I’m very excited that within the next month the construction of the County Campus at the Metro Center will be complete. This six-story building will be the home of our newest and largest library branch and valuable instructional space for the Community College of Baltimore County. When complete, the entire project will provide an excellent town center consisting of residential, office and retail buildings.
You will notice in your review that the FY16 and FY18 bond amounts are less than FY14. This is intended to keep debt levels within debt affordability parameters and allow us to maintain the triple Triple-A bond rating we currently enjoy. Less than 1 percent of counties in the nation have earned a triple Triple-A rating. This rating allows us to obtain low-interest rates on our debt. In fact, in early December, Baltimore County sold $365 million in General Obligation Bonds at 2.05 percent, the lowest interest rate in County history.
Finally, you will find few material changes to the capital projects being submitted for your review. As in previous years, County Administrative Officer, Fred Homan, and Budget Director, Keith Dorsey, are here to answer any questions you may have.
Thank you for allowing me to address you this afternoon. I truly appreciate your commitment to the citizens of Baltimore County and thank the chair, Ed Gilliss, for his outstanding leadership.