Thursday, April 14, 2022

Budget Buzz


You’ve probably been seeing a lot of buzz around County Executive Calvin Ball’s proposed 2023 capital budget plan. I know I have. It happens every year. In Howard County the Executive creates a budget proposal and it goes to the County Council. As I recall, they may alter it by removing things, but not by adding. Naturally the Executive believes in the budget and wants to communicate that to the general public and build some momentum for getting it passed in a form which is largely unchanged.

Basically, all these news articles and social media posts about the priorities put forward in Dr. Ball’s budget are to inform the public, because these are public dollars and the budget process is a public process. Some folks seem to think that Ball just enjoys showing off - - not that he and his team shouldn’t be proud of their work - - but, in fact, it’s his responsibility to keep the budget process transparent.

I’d be worried if I weren’t seeing articles and posts about the budget.

My council member, Dr. Opel Jones, posted a helpful infographic about the budget process on Facebook. Here’s what’s happening in April:

Why is this important to you? Well, first off, you have a right to stay informed about the workings of local government. You also have the right to respond to the process by writing to your Council Member. Input from the public can provide valuable information as the Council makes their decisions. 

Remember, they can’t add in anything that isn’t there already, so if you hoping to establish a local home for the Maryland Zebras or to fund therapeutic bouncy castles, you are out of luck. It’s too late in the process for that. Maybe next year.

The annual budget is one of the most tangible ways for the County Executive to express their priorities. Plus, they need to choose what is most crucial for the money available. What is the best investment based on known efficacy and value? It’s important to note that the annual budget is not created in a vacuum. The Executive receives quite a bit of community input as the final document takes shape.

It put me in mind of the following quote*.

A budget is a moral document. What we fund is what we value.

Remember this as you read about this year’s budget. What are the priorities? What will this mean for the residents of Howard County? Do you agree? Disagree? Is there anything in the 2023 budget that you are particularly excited about?

Check back Saturday for a post on one of my favorite parts of this year’s budget. 

*I’ve looked but can’t find definitive attribution for this quote. 

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