County Council Weighs Adding $ 21.6 Million More to Next Year’s Proposed Budget
Members also recommended just $ 1.6 million in cuts from County Executive Ike Leggett’s spending plan, significantly less than in previous years
The Montgomery County Council
County Council website
Updated - 10 a.m. Tuesday - The Montgomery County Council is evaluating committee recommendations to add about $23.2 million to the $5.6 billion fiscal 2019 operating budget proposed by County Executive Ike Leggett.
The figure is the amount of spending required to fund the council’s “reconciliation list,” which includes the items that Leggett didn’t include in his initial budget proposal.
The proposed additions come as the county’s latest revenue forecasts project revenues to be $106.1 million less than was budgeted for fiscal 2018 and $77 million below the fiscal 2019 projections that were made last year.
Meanwhile, the council proposed just $1.6 million in cuts. If the full reconciliation list is approved, that would mean adding about $21.6 million to the 2019 budget.
The total of the proposed cuts is considerably lower than the approximately $8 million in reductions that the council has proposed on average in previous years, according to council Administrator Marlene Michaelson.
“We’re encouraging the council to not add more as you go through your review,” Michaelson said.
Jacob Sesker, legislative analyst for the council, said the previous low in operating budget cuts proposed by the council came in fiscal 2015, when it recommended about $5.6 million in reductions.
“Obviously the $1.6 million figure is lower than it has been in past years,” Sesker said. Council staff warned there may be a limited amount of money to fund the proposed budget items, which council members often refer to as a "wish list."
The council is next scheduled to review the budget Wednesday, according to council staff. The council typically approves the budget, which covers county spending from July 1 to June 30, 2019, in late May.
More than a third of the proposed reconciliation list additions comes from the Public Safety Committee, which included $8.6 million in reconciliation list items, according to council staff documents. Funding for those items includes about $5.7 million to restore the use of fire trucks that Leggett proposed removing from service in Hyattstown, Germantown and Hillandale as well as about $1.4 million to include seven additional recruits for the police department.
Marc Elrich, the chair of the committee, said in an email to Bethesda Beat, the funds for the trucks were restored to prevent response times from dropping below 8 minutes in those areas.
Elrich, who is running for county executive, chairs the public safety committee, which also includes council members Tom Hucker and Sidney Katz. All three have been endorsed in their respective elections this year by unions representing county firefighters and police. Katz is seeking re-election to his District 3 seat and Hucker is seeking re-election in District 5.
Other council committees proposed adding the following amounts to the reconciliation list:
- Education - $1.8 million;
- Government Operations - $663,000;
- Health and Human Services - $5.5 million;
- Planning, Housing and Economic Development - $4.8 million;
- Transportation and Environment - $1.5 million; and
- Other additions - $350,000