Howard council OKs budget, including two late changes


The Howard County Council yesterday unanimously approved a $1.2 billion budget for fiscal 2007 - the last of retiring County Executive James N. Robey's spending plans.

Two late changes were adopted, 3-2, on party-line votes. They diverted $470,000 from contingency and snow-removal funds to allow the school board to hire an extra guidance counselor, a part-time school psychologist and two more custodians, and to create a $250,000 Family Stabilization Fund to help the working poor cope with rent, gasoline and utility costs.

"Overall, I thought it was a good budget," said council Chairman Christopher J. Merdon, an Ellicott City Republican who is running for county executive.

Robey cut the local property tax rate by 3 cents to $1.014 per $100 of assessed value, while increasing spending by 10 percent, partly to give general county workers a 3 percent pay raise. County teachers will get a raise of 3.5 percent, and firefighters get an extra 1 percent Jan. 1.

County schools got all but about $3 million of what they requested, enabling the hiring of 298 new employees. The $336.6 million capital budget includes funds for three new elementary schools - one a replacement for a 30-year old building.

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