Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Operating budget released

The proposed 2011 operating budget was released. I have not looked through it yet, but two interesting things right off the bat are that HHAP is set to get another $500K, and the rainy day fund will not be hit:

The plan also leaves funds for Healthy Howard, Ulman’s public health initiative, allocating $500,000.

“I am very pleased that Healthy Howard will be put out of business in 2014 by the federal (health care) bill,” the executive said.

He also allocated $232,000 for the Howard County Department of Citizen Services to dole out to agencies that will do the work of the now defunct Specialized Trauma Treatment and Recovery Center, which treated victims of psychological trauma and sexual assault until closing last year amid financial distress.

Ulman’s budget does not pull money from the county’s never-been-touched $48 million rainy day fund, which budget administrator Raymond Wacks previously speculated might be necessary to solve a $20 million shortfall in the current year’s budget.

I am not surprised by either of these two items. Tapping the rainy day fund, especially during an election year in a bad economic climate is dangerous business for someone who wants to be re-elected.

However, I will make one prediction with respect to the rainy day fund: that fund will be cleaned out by some future County Executive during an economic boom when money seems to be growing on trees and no one is paying attention to the budget. It will never be touched during a recession because doing so would make it appear that the CE does not have spending under control. That's just how the politics will work out.


Anonymous said...

FM: I don't yet have a strong opinion on whether using the RDF in an election year (or, better put, this year) would have be an expense of political capital. I'll need to ruminate a bit more on that (i.e., read other opinions until I find my preferred one to parrot).

However, from an economic perspective, KU should have hit the RDF in lieu of job cuts/furloughs. RDF's should be used on rainy days. That's the point. As part of that, we must be certain to prevent plundering of (and in fact must grow) the RDF during better times.



Anonymous said...

"would have be" = would have been.



Anonymous said...

Many seem to be concerned with the per participant investment in expanding access to affordable healthcare through Healthy Howard (HH). How much is being spent per participant or family for the other 40 or so entities that get funding from the Community Services Partnership Fund (CSPF), some more than HH?

Freemarket said...

Looks like only two organizations received more funding than HHAP, out of more than thirty organizations that received grants from the county. It would be extremely interesting to look into how this money is being used by these 30+ organizations and what the benefit is.

Anonymous said...

My guess is that if you were to compare the amount of money received from these organizations to the number of people they serve and the breadth of services they provide, you would see that HHAP is much more efficient than others.

The key is not only to look at number of people but type and breadth of services. For example, you can feed one homeless person one meal for $5. The service lasted 30 minutes and was a one time services. The organization says they serve one person for $5 but you can't compare that to comprehensive health services. Both feeding the homeless and providing health services are just and worthy causes but you must compare apples to apples.

Beware of oversimplified comparisons.