It’s no secret that Howard County government officials are struggling to meet their budget obligations as the city of Washington, D.C., and its citizens struggle with a shutdown that will likely last until late July or early August.
But that doesn’t mean they are totally out of the woods.
In a report released Thursday, the National Conference of State Legislatures found that Howard and neighboring Prince George’s Counties will see their government funding slashed over the next decade as the federal government closes down for the summer.
The report also notes that the county’s economic growth will slow dramatically, and many of its businesses will be forced to shut down for months at a time.
“Howard County’s budget woes are likely to worsen over the course of the year and into next year,” the report stated.
“The county’s $1.9 billion operating budget is about $20 million short of its 2018 goal.
A $10.5 billion operating surplus is the most the county has ever achieved, but the county is still projected to have a $3.4 billion shortfall in its 2018 budget.
The county’s projected operating deficit could easily double in the next two years.”
Countywide, the County Council has set a December 1 deadline for a plan to address Howard County’s financial challenges, and the County Executive’s Office and Howard County Development Corp. have already committed $1 million in additional funding to support Howard County as it addresses its financial challenges,” the NRSC said.
The county has a population of nearly 13,000, which is the third-largest in Maryland, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The Howard County Council, which has authority over the county budget, also is set to vote on a resolution that would extend the deadline for the Howard County Executive to come up with a long-term plan to resolve Howard County County’s fiscal challenges, the NRCC said.
A representative for Howard County, which relies on state aid to pay for its operating expenses, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The NRSC report said the Howard’s economic situation would take a major hit over the summer and the county could be forced out of federal assistance as early as March.
In addition to the federal shutdown, the report notes that Howard has also suffered a severe economic downturn over the last few years due to the city’s massive population growth and an aging population that was forced to live in city-owned homes and apartments.
While the county does not expect to see a $2 million reduction in its operating budget, it will likely need to make budget cuts to help pay for the needs of its aging residents and residents of other nearby counties, according the report.”
The NRCC report also warned that Howard will need to cut spending on health care, housing, education and other programs that help residents stay in their homes, including in some areas that are outside the county.””
Some residents also experience the impact of higher energy costs, while others rely on food assistance and have limited employment opportunities.”
The NRCC report also warned that Howard will need to cut spending on health care, housing, education and other programs that help residents stay in their homes, including in some areas that are outside the county.
“With the county facing a projected deficit of $3 billion over the coming years, it is imperative that Howard residents and local governments prioritize addressing these issues in order to maintain their ability to meet the needs and needs of their residents,” the assessment said.