For the 14th year in a row, Howard County has received a AAA credit rating from all three national bond rating agencies.
Howard is one of fewer than 30 counties in the country to receive a AAA rating, the highest rating available, from Fitch Ratings, Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s Investor Services.
“Howard County has a history of managing through difficult economic downturns; while this is the 14th consecutive year we have received the highest possible rating from all three agencies and it is gratifying, we never take that rating for granted,” County Executive Kenneth Ulman said in a statement Monday. “As we have for the past four years, we will continue to make tough financial decisions, remain conservative in our spending and find efficiencies throughout government.”
Full story here.
Yesterday, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman gave his annual State of the County speech. He talked about managing well, partnering well, and investing well – the “principles that have guided this administration from Day One.”
The two things that stood out to us were his comments on downtown (of course!):
I am extremely proud of the community effort that we went through for downtown Columbia. The master plan we passed last year embodies the vision and values of the community, respects our history and establishes downtown Columbia as a dynamic, attractive place to live, work and play.
And his emphasis on the impact from the coming expansions at Fort Meade (BRAC and Cyber Command):
… after talking about base realignment for years and seeing jobs trickle in, we’re now poised to see the flood of jobs we’ve heard so much about. Already, 500 positions have been moved on base, and by September, that number will grow to 5,800 -- over 5,000 new jobs in 9 months. That’s staggering.
And by the end of 2012, we are expecting an additional 15,000 private sector jobs to have accompanied this expansion….
Wow. There is no question: Columbia and Howard County will see some stunning changes in the next few years and decades. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: we can look at change as a problem or as an opportunity – but either way, it’s coming.
We choose to embrace change proactively, and we believe Columbia, with our tradition of “creative, forward thinking community planning,” is a great place to do that.
If you’re interested in more of what the county executive had to say, you can read the full text here or watch it on video on Comcast Ch. 99/Verizon Ch. 44:
January 25 – 7 p.m.
January 26 – 1:30 p.m.
January 27 – 11:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m.
January 28 – 1:30 p.m.
January 29 – 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
January 30 – 1:30 p.m.
I saw this piece in the Maryland Reporter the other day, about our County Executive, Ken Ulman, taking over as president of the Board of Directors for the Maryland Association of Counties. In this new position, he’ll work with and represent local officials from all around the state, advocating for county issues. This is especially key right now, with budget cuts already straining local jurisdictions, and more looming on the horizon. Known for his commitment to fiscal responsibility, he seems like a great fit to represent Maryland’s counties as they deal with these budget issues.
In a December interview, the 36-year-old Ulman said the top issues for counties are “budget, budget, budget. It’s all about future pension shifts and budget. We have some other issues, but that is the real issue.”
Another re-emerging debate surrounds Smart Growth. We can’t think of a better person to speak to this issue at the state level than trail-blazer Ulman. His leadership and first-hand experience in areas like this will provide inspiration and knowledge to other elected officials across Maryland.
“The MACo Board made the right choice by electing County Executive Ulman to lead the organization during these difficult economic times. I look forward to working with Ken and the entire MACo Board as we build on the accomplishments of the last four years and continue to move Maryland forward.”
UPDATE: Video of Governor O’Malley announcing Ken as MACo president, and some words from our county executive:
It looks like the new execs at the Howard Hughes Corporation have made some big changes here in Columbia. We don’t know what to make of them yet. All we know is that this project needs to keep moving forward.
From the comments in the Sun article, it looks like both our elected officials and the new Howard Hughes leadership understand that the momentum of the community’s plan is intensifying.
The new CEO of the corporation, David Weinreb, said, “We’re shifting into high gear now. This is the time to be making bold moves.”
County Executive Ken Ulman and members of the county council stressed the enforceability of the plan, regardless of land ownership.
“This points out exactly what we’ve been saying for the last three years,” Ulman said. “The plan is the plan. It does not depend on ownership. They can embrace the plan and build the downtown … or not. On the one hand, it feels like we’re starting over with new people, but we’ve got a plan to protect the interests of Columbia and county residents.”
County Councilwoman Courtney Watson was more blunt. “We don’t have to approve the rest of the process unless the company performs. I think we’re in the catbird’s seat,” she said.
Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty can take much credit for insisting that the legislation be written for any developer of downtown, not just General Growth Properties, who happened to be the developer at the time. We should thank her for her foresight.
As David Weinreb said, it’s time to “shift into high gear.” For over five years now, we’ve been engaged in a comprehensive planning and creative process. Now, we’re looking forward to the process of building the vibrant, connected, and walkable downtown we’ve envisioned.
A Bright, Bright Future for Howard County: County Executive Ulman talks about the “transformative” changes coming to our area
The spotlight was on County Executive Ken Ulman on WBAL TV’s Sunday Q & A. Asked about the plan to redevelop Downtown (around minute 1:30), he hit the nail on the head: “We have a great downtown, a great mall, a lakefront, Merriweather Post Pavilion – but you can’t walk from one to another!” He went on to talk about the $26.5 million “rebuilding” of Merriweather “for the next generation.” (Hey, that’s us!!!)
Then, the question is posed: “You guys are on the cutting edge of the cyber security world out there. Are we going to see more jobs coming to Fort Meade because of this?” His response? “Absolutely.“
See the rest of his comments here, starting around minute 3:00, about the “transformative” impact of BRAC and Cyber Command on the region. Columbia and Howard County are perfectly located for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If we are going to capture that opportunity, we must start preparing.
There has been a lot of talk about last Tuesday’s election already, so we’ll spare you more analysis except to say that it was proof that our current leadership is leading us in the right direction, toward our shared vision of a vibrant, sustainable Columbia and Howard County.
We join New City Alliance in congratulating the Howard County Executive and Council on their victories and look forward to working with them as we all move Columbia forward.
What a year it’s been. We’ve seen it all. The historic passage of CBs 58 & 59 by our County Council, the bill signed into law by our County Executive, a failed referendum effort against it, and a huge primary win by Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty over Delegate Bobo’s candidate Alan Klein.
All that’s left is tomorrow’s general election. Columbia 2.0 would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication our elected officials have displayed, not only this year, but for the past 4 years. They put the community’s best interest first, and they locked in a plan that embodies our core values.
Therefore, we are proud to endorse County Executive Ken Ulman and Council members Calvin Ball, Greg Fox, Mary Kay Sigaty, Jen Terrasa, and Courtney Watson for re-election. Here’s to 4 more years of moving Howard County forward.
Today! January 5, 2009 at 11:00 a.m.
Call in to (605) 475-4800
Access Code: 923292#
New City Alliance, the bipartisan political alliance advocating for the smart development of Downtown Columbia, will discuss the various amendments that have been proposed to the General Plan Amendment and Zoning Regulation Amendments. We will also discuss our upcoming fundraising event, First & Goal, which will mobilize supporters for our final push across the finish line.
The call will be open, and participants are free to ask questions.
Word is that County Exec. Ulman sent a letter up to Chicago yesterday asking them to keep Town Center together. This is exactly the kind of leadership we need. Instead of using the bankruptcy as an excuse to put our heads in the sand and delay, we adapt to the changing conditions and stay focused on the goal.