Thursday, May 27, 2010

Montgomery County Council Approves $4.3 Billion Total Operating Budget for FY11

Excerpts from official Montgomery Council News Release, May 27, 2010

In an austere year caused by the deep recession, the Montgomery County Council today approved a $4.3 billion total County operating budget for Fiscal Year 2011, which begins July 1. The budget is 4.5 percent less than the approved budget for FY10, marking the first decrease in a total budget since the adoption of the current County Charter in 1968.

Since March 15, when County Executive Isiah Leggett presented his recommended budget, the Council has worked to achieve equity in the allocation of limited funds. On May 19, the Council unanimously agreed to reduce the budget for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) by $19.7 million in the operating budget and $4.7 million in capital budget, for a total reduction of $24.4 million (1.1 percent less than proposed by the Executive). These funds will help mitigate deep cuts in the safety net and other vital services, including Montgomery College. The MCPS share of the total combined agency costs will be 56.6 percent, compared to 55 percent this year.

On May 20, the Council voted to restore a number of significant items to the budget, including key additions that address health and human services needs. Items added include additional funding for the Montgomery Cares, the Patient Navigator program, MCPS school health room aides, residential treatment providers, the Community Vision program, Parent Resource Centers, residential treatment provider supplements and the Mental Health Association suicide hotline. Funds also were restored so that contracts for health and human services would be reduced by 5 percent, instead of the 7 percent recommended by the Executive.

The budget re-establishes the reserve at 6 percent, which should help maintain the County’s AAA bond rating. The reserve was reduced to 5 percent in FY10.

The overall tax-supported budget of $3.66 billion is down $191.0 million from the FY10 adopted budget, a decrease of 5.0 percent. This is the second consecutive year the tax-supported portion of the budget has decreased.

The MCPS budget of $1.9 billion represents 56.6 percent of the budgets for the four agencies (a decrease of 1.1 percent from the FY10 approved budget); the Montgomery College budget of $215.8 million represents 6.4 percent of the budgets for the four agencies (a decrease of 0.8 percent from the FY10 approved budget); the County Government total of $1.2 billion represents 34.3 percent of the budgets for the four agencies (a decrease of 7.0 percent from the FY10 approved budget); and the M-NCPPC budget of $92.7 million represents 2.7 percent of the budget of the budgets for the four agencies (a decrease of 13.0 percent from the FY10 approved budget).
In a budget year complicated by the national and regional economic downturn, the Council’s budget protects core services and “safety net” programs, but does not exceed the County’s Charter Limit on property tax revenue. The budget includes a $692 property tax credit for owner-occupants of principal residences. It freezes pay for employees of County Government, Montgomery College, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) and MCPS.
Employees at all agencies (including the County’s public safety sectors)—except MCPS—will take unpaid furloughs in FY11. Furloughs for County Government employees, including elected officials, will be progressive: three days (24 work hours) for employees whose salaries are less than $50,000; five days (40 work hours) for those with salaries of $50,000 to $100,000; and eight days (64 work hours) for those with salaries greater than $100,000.

The Council provided funding for nine Educational Facilities Officers (EFOs) for the outreach program sponsored by the Police Department in partnership with the Montgomery County Public Schools. The officers involved in the program are assigned to a high school and its cluster of middle schools. The officers spend the majority of the day fostering positive interactions with students and school staff.

The budget includes a plan to consolidate all recreation facility and athletic field permitting, all class/program registration and most class/program operation in the County Department of Recreation from the M-NCPPC Department of Parks to create a more streamlined and user-friendly system for County residents. The Council believes this consolidation, over time, will lead to budget savings and operational efficiencies.

Click here to read the full Council press release.

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