Monday, March 15, 2010

Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg Calls Leggett Budget Pragmatic Response to Difficult Economic Times

‘Need to Look Beyond 2010’ Trachtenberg Says of Challenge Before Montgomery County Council

ROCKVILLE, Md., March 15, 2010—Montgomery County Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At-Large), chair of the Council’s Management and Fiscal Policy (MFP) Committee, today called County Executive Isiah Leggett’s recommended Fiscal Year 2011 Operating Budget a product of the region’s economic downturn and an opportunity to build a new government foundation anchored in fiscal responsibility and long-term planning.

“These are new and challenging times for Montgomery County,” Councilmember Trachtenberg said. “In the recent past, Montgomery County enjoyed budget surpluses and County officials debated how to expand social services and fund new community initiatives. Today, we face unprecedented economic difficulties and this will simply mean County government will look very different in the coming year. I am particularly concerned about services for the most vulnerable and what they will be in the years to come.”

Councilmember Trachtenberg, who as MFP chair will preside in the coming weeks over discussions and proposed modifications to the proposed FY11 budget, also believes that the Council has an obligation to establish a long-term goal for Montgomery County. Councilmember Trachtenberg has identified the need to look beyond 2010 to plan for the County’s financial health.

“During last year’s budget process, I said that making short-term choices that avoided difficult multi-year decisions was unsustainable and fundamentally unfair to taxpayers,” Councilmember Trachtenberg said. “My colleagues and I were elected to step up when the time arrives to make hard choices, and that time is now.”

Councilmember Trachtenberg said that, due to the continued severity of the current economic recession and the associated dramatic revenue reductions in the current fiscal year, Montgomery County faces a historic projected gap of nearly $780 million in the FY11 Operating Budget.

The County Executive’s recommended budget closed the gap. The proposed total County budget (which includes debt service, grants, and enterprise funds) for FY11 is $4,304,288,414—a reduction of $169.7 million from the FY10 Approved Budget—representing a 3.8 percent decrease. This is the only time the annual County Budget has been reduced since the adoption of the current Charter in 1968.

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