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County Executive Talks About Budget Shortfall in Germantown

County Executive Marc Elrich spoke of a $160 million budget shortfall in the Fiscal Year 2020 Operating Budget and the potential for some serious belt-tightening by County agencies at last Thursday’s Operating Budget Forum held at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown.

“When I was campaigning,” Elrich told the audience in Germantown last week, “I kept telling people the problem isn’t going to be three years from now or down the road, the problem was going to be this year, and we would struggle to fully fund the budget. I wish I weren’t as right as I am. It is worse than I had anticipated it would be.”

It was Elrich’s first official appearance in Germantown, since taking office in December. The Operating Budget Forum event has become an annual tradition in the County started by former County Executive Ike Leggett. The Forum was officially sponsored by the UpCounty Advisory Committee and was one of five such events held at various locations throughout the County. Thursday’s event was originally scheduled to be the first stop of the tour on January 14 but needed to be rescheduled after a snowstorm made travel dangerous that evening.

The Budget Forum serves as a way for residents to speak directly to the County Executive to relay concerns and help County leadership set priorities for funding spending. It is one of the few events in which citizens can directly address elected county leadership without first submitting questions in writing in advance, and pre-registration to speak.

This year’s Budget Forum was well attended. However, the audience seemed a bit smaller than in years past. The Germantown Budget Forum, in years past, had always been the first stop on tour, and it was originally scheduled to be first, but the snow forced it to be rescheduled, so maybe the drop off in attendance was due to the timing. Perhaps, the larger groups which often populate these events attended previous forums held elsewhere in the County due to the rescheduling of this event.