Despite financial hard times, the Howard County executive proposed yesterday spending a record $1.1 billion over the next six years on new capital improvements.
Among the proposals are a $5.4 million yard-waste composting facility and spending $11.7 million to advance construction on highway projects in the upcoming fiscal year.
"Many of the projects are financed by bonds over 20 years, and it is not something we have to pay off today," said Raymond S. Wacks, the county budget officer, in explaining the billion-dollar capital program at a time when County Executive Charles I. Ecker is proposing cuts in the operating budget and layoffs.
Mr. Ecker is proposing $102 million in capital improvements for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.That, Mr. Wacks pointed out, is $84 million less than this fiscal year's capital appropriation forged by the former executive and council. However, the six-year capital program represents a record amount.
For education, the executive is requesting $29.8 million next fiscal year, including $11 million for Western Middle School and $7.4 million for Northeast Elementary, and $290 million over six years. He approved all school board construction requests, except for deferring a warehouse and environmental center.
He included $15 million for farmland preservation and $1.7 million to improve Centennial Lane in Ellicott City. The executive's capital budget went to the council, which will hold a public hearing April 16. Final action is due May 23.