County Executive’s Capital Budget Tops $4.4 Billion; Releases FY17-22 Capital Improvement Program
MCPS Unhappy With $113 M Shortfall; Budget Includes Projects in Clarksburg and Other UpCounty Areas
County Executive Ike Leggett released his recommended $4.4 billion FY17 Capital Budget and six-year FY17-22 Capital Improvements Program, or CIP. The budget includes nearly $1.9 billion for education, including $1.57 billion for the Montgomery County Public Schools, which is the highest funding level ever provided, as well as $305 million for Montgomery College.
The budget provides critical support for DownCounty initiatives as White Flint, Smart Growth, Wheaton Redevelopment and the White Oak Science Gateway, and Purple Line related projects. The CIP includes $192 million in funding for Purple Line-related projects – including a maximum $40 million County contribution to the State for the Purple Line, and $181 million for road maintenance. As well, as planning funds for future bus rapid transit projects along Maryland 355.
“This FY17 Capital Budget and six-year Capital Improvements Program represents a balanced approach – investing in schools, jobs, transportation and housing while also being prudent with future borrowing,” said Leggett. “Given the continuing fiscal challenges we face with our operating budget and the need to hold down debt service, I was not able to say ‘yes’ to every worthy project. I have concentrated on those areas that get the biggest ‘bang’ for the taxpayers’ buck.”
Montgomery County Public Schools
Leggett’s budget provides $1.57 billion to Montgomery County Public Schools, which is the highest funding level ever, according to county officials.
“Our schools continue to attract residents and employers to the County,” said Leggett. “The schools fulfill many critical functions – educating our future employees, leaders, and innovators and helping to integrate the many immigrants that enrich our County. MCPS is also a critical partner in helping low-income families move up the economic ladder. It is imperative that we invest in meeting our schools’ capacity, modernization, and infrastructure needs supporting these goals. For this reason, funding for MCPS projects remains my highest priority.”
However, MCPS officials were not overjoyed at the level of funding proposed by Leggett.
Board of Education President Michael Durso and Interim Superintendent Larry Bowers released a joint statement concerning Leggett’s Capital Budget recommendation: “Montgomery County Public Schools has been experiencing record enrollment growth for several years which has put a significant strain on our school buildings as we work to ensure that every student receives the best possible education. That’s why it is disappointing that County Executive Isiah Leggett’s recommended capital budget leaves us more than $113 million short of what we need in the next two years in our capital budget.”
“We certainly recognize that funds are not limitless,” the statement said, “but it is essential that we continue investing in school construction to meet the needs of our surging enrollment. This recommended level of funding potentially means significant delays in numerous projects.
“In the coming weeks, we will seek to work with the County Council and our state leaders in Annapolis to secure more funding in an effort to keep much-needed projects on track.”
Over the six-year period, funding for school construction increases $42.5 million from the amended FY15-20 CIP and $50.3 million above the full FY15-20 CIP. The MCPS CIP has grown by 71.8 percent over the last twelve years. The recommended capital budget also includes a number of other projects that will benefit MCPS programs. These incl