You have to wonder whether the Howard Section print edition is for news that is to be hidden, or news that is to be well-read. I say this because somehow, I am able to sit at my computer and tell you what is in the section, but the Sun has not so mastered the Internet that they are able to get these articles from Mr. Carson's computer to the Sun website. (UPDATE: Day late, but still many dollars short, har har har). Maybe the delay is caused by the news filtering through the "bar of respectability" that this medium does not have.
Anyhow, there is a frightening article in said Howard section that should have the county "rainy day fund" shaking in its rain-boots. Some excerpts (ugh, I have to type these out):
"A computer model assuming only a 1.9 percent growth in education spending -- which includes no teacher pay raises -- would still result in red ink for fiscal years 2011, 2012, and 2013 before revenue is predicted to again outstrip expenses."
"Howard County can't raise income tax rates, which are already at the state's maximum." (Phew)
"The computer model shows that continuing authority to borrow up to $100 million through bond sales will boost that debt service cost from $84.2 million next fiscal year to to $95.3 million by fiscal 2014, when revenue is expected to rebound."
"If the state shifted teacher pension costs...it would cost Howard up to $60 million a year."
"That three year forecast for up to $29 million in revenue shortfalls led [county budget director Raymond S. Wacks] to warn that using the rainy-day fund in a long-term situation could end in a structural deficit -- a continuing gap between revenue and spending."
A few additional notes:
1) Ken Ulman and the Council only control 30% of the locally funded county budget, which last year was $1.4 billion. Google tells me that that is $420 million.
2) Why is the rainy day fund still at $48 million after a year? I'm no banker, but I'm pretty sure my 8 year old cousins received a higher rate of interest on their allowance than we were given on our rainy day fund...unless we were hedging against a state-wide bank failure.
3) How will Ken get himself out of this one? Tune in next time.