The Montgomery County Council will hold five public hearings on April 10, 11 and 12 on Montgomery County’s Fiscal Year 2019 Operating Budget. More than 150 people are expected to express their views about budget priorities and the general structure of the County’s budget.
County Executive Isiah Leggett presented his recommended operating budget to the Council on March 15. In April and May the Council and its six committees will analyze budget recommendations and will adopt the FY19 County budget in late May. The budget will take effect on July 1.
The budget, which is Leggett’s last as County Executive, contains an overall two percent increase of the Fiscal Year 2018 Operating Budget. The County’s new fiscal year begins July 1, 2018. The Recommended FY19 Operating Budget of $5.56 billion for the year that begins on July 1, 2018 – a budget that increases County spending on the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) by $75 million and holds property taxes at the Charter Limit by reducing the tax rate by 1.98 cents per $100 assessed valuation.
Leggett’s FY19 total budget increases spending overall by only 2 percent. The budget increases funding for the Montgomery County Public Schools by 3.1 percent, funding 100 percent of the Board of Education’s request. The $75 million increase over the current year’s budget is $19 million more than the required Maintenance of Effort level.
County government spending is actually reduced over the current year’s level by 0.5 percent. The recommended budgets for Montgomery College and the Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission each rose by 0.8 percent.
Under the FY19 Recommended Operating Budget, the proposed property tax rate is 98.1 cents per $100 of assessed valuation – 1.98 cents below the current rate. The median tax bill (for a house assessed at $400,000) will see an annual increase of only $27 from $4,005 currently to $4,132 in the coming year. This amounts to $2.25 a month. It includes a $692 tax credit for owner-occupied residences.
“This budget continues my commitment to prudent fiscal policies critical to sound fiscal management,” said Leggett. “I have increased our reserve levels to cushion the taxpayer against any future unanticipated economic setbacks and included the required level of funding for retiree health benefits.
“At the same time, I have focused available resources on priorities that meet the important needs of our growing community. I have increased funding for public education at all levels beyond what is required by State Maintenance of Effort laws, funded our public safety needs, expanded our Positive Youth Development programs, provided resources for programs critical to our growing senior population and immigrant communities, and continued to address the needs of our most vulnerable residents.”
The public hearings will be held at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, April 10; at 1:30 pm and 7:00 pm on Wednesday, April 11; and at 1:30 pm and 7:00 p on Thursday, April 12. All hearings will be held in the third-floor hearing room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave.
The hearings will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM). Residents can view CCM on Channels 996 (high definition) and 6 (standard definition) on Comcast, Channels 1056 (HD) and 6 (SD) on RCN and Channel 30 on Verizon.
The hearings also will be available via streaming on the Council’s website.
The number of speakers for public hearings is limited. Those interested in testifying can sign up online or by calling 240-777-7803.
For residents who speak a language other than English, special arrangements for interpretation services can be made for either those testifying or those attending. Arrangements must be made 72 hours in advance by calling 240-777-7926.
Comments and suggestions are welcome online; via email at email@example.com; by sending regular mail to County Council, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850; or by calling the Council’s budget hotline at 240-777-7802. Also use the hashtag #MoCoFY19 on social media.
Information on the budget can be found at the County's Budget website or by going to the Council’s web page and clicking on “Operating and CIP Budgets.”
File photo by Germantown Pulse