County Council OKs $5.6B Operating Budget and $4.5B Capital Budget
On Thursday, May 24, the Montgomery County Council approved the County’s $5.6 billion Fiscal Year 2019 Operating Budget, the FY19 Capital Budget and the FY19-24 Capital Improvements Program. The Council approved a $4.5 billion FY19-24 CIP to fund school construction, infrastructure improvements and community projects.
The operating budget fully funds Montgomery County Public Schools and supports Montgomery College, the County’s Police Department, the Fire and Rescue Service and essential health and human services programs. The Council agreed to add nearly $6.7 million to the operating budget to maintain existing service levels and to minimize call response times for residents during emergencies. The budget also sets aside funding for the County’s FY19 revenue goal of 9.4 percent of adjusted governmental revenues. Funding for this financial obligation helps the County retain its AAA bond rating.
“Today we voted to approve the County’s FY19 Operating Budget and the FY19-24 Capital Improvements Program. Working together, we have produced a budget that is restrained and responsible, does not raise taxes, and ensures the County will continue to provide the superb services that so many of our residents appreciate so much,” said Council President Hans Riemer. “I credit the County Executive with making many great decisions in his budget, including fully funding Montgomery County Public Schools, which was also my highest priority. Among many changes, the Council was able to restore $6.7 million in proposed cuts to the Fire and Rescue Service, resulting in no cuts to these services, expand after school programs and pre-K, and shore up key safety-net services.” He went on to say, “In the capital budget, despite reducing our overall borrowing level, we increased funding for school construction, shifted transportation funding to transit and bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and added an exciting new project—a new facility for STEM learning and innovation for kids, in partnership with KID Museum and the City of Rockville. I thank my colleagues for their support and dedication to working together.”
Council President Hans Riemer, Vice President Nancy Navarro and Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, Nancy Floreen, Tom Hucker, Sidney Katz, George Leventhal and Craig Rice unanimously supported the operating budget agreement. Councilmembers’ budget statements and video clips of their remarks can be found here.
All of the Council’s budget votes were unanimous except for the CIP for County Government, which was approved by an 8-1 vote with Councilmember Nancy Floreen opposed because of her concerns regarding delays to County stormwater management projects.
The budgets will go into effect on July 1. The Council’s final budget resolutions can be viewed here. The complete list of items approved on the Council’s budget reconciliation list can be found here. The list of Council community grants can be found here.
The County’s $4.5 billion six-year capital budget provides funding to address the County’s most urgent building needs. The Council agreed to $1.8 billion over the next six years for Montgomery County Public Schools’ CIP. The Council reallocated/added $34 million from the approved CIP for school construction including funding for Lee Middle School to stay on the schedule proposed by the Board of Education with completion by September 2021 and planning funds for Dufief Elementary School in FY19. Other notable capital projects include funding for building acquisition and renovation to bring the KID Museum to Twinbrook, the Forest Glen Passageway, and improvements to the Capital Crescent Trail, bike and pedestrian safety projects and several elementary school additions.
The operating budget includes tax-supported expenditures of $4.9 billion and approximately $672.2 million in non-tax supported expenditures. The budget reflects a property tax rate of 98.14 cents per $100 of assessed value, which is 1.98 cents below the current rate. The budget includes a property tax credit of $692 for homeowners whose properties are their primary residences. The annual bill for the average homeowner will increase by $27. With these actions, property tax revenue will not exceed the “Charter Limit” on real property tax revenue.