Tough Decisions by the County Council Have Strengthened Recovery Effort
Tough decisions by the 17th Montgomery County Council at the height of the Great Recession are paying dividends, according to the County’s FY15-20 Fiscal Plan, approved by the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee this morning. While some other jurisdictions in the Washington Metropolitan Region continue struggling to balance their budgets – raising taxes, reducing services, and cutting teaching positions – Montgomery County is moving in the opposite direction.
The six-year fiscal plan is based on the FY 2015 budget approved by the Council May 22. The budget fully funds the Board of Education’s request for Montgomery County Public Schools, increases the number of police officers, and provides additional support for safety net and other critical services that were cut during the recession, including libraries, parks, and transportation. The average County homeowner will see an $18 reduction in their property tax bill. The Council also reduced the 2010 energy tax increase by 7 percent, bringing the total reduction over the last three years to 27 percent. Overall, Montgomery County’s tax burden on residents has decreased in each of the last three years.
At the same time, the budget includes reserves at historic levels – $379 million, or 8.4 percent of adjusted governmental revenues – to guard against a future downturn. The fiscal plan shows that the County is ahead of schedule in reaching its policy goal of 10 percent reserves by 2020.
“This strong fiscal plan reflects the hard decisions the Council made over the last four years to deal with the Great Recession,” said Government Operations Committee Chair Nancy Navarro. “Those decisions have enabled the County to weather the worst fiscal conditions since the Great Depression, preserve our AAA bond rating, and slowly restore the services that mean so much to our residents.”
The Council is scheduled to vote on the plan on June 17.
For details on the fiscal plan, see http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/council/Resources/Files/agenda/cm/2014/140612/20140612_GO3.pdf.