Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett has laid out a $4.57 billion operating budget for fiscal 2013, a $200 million boost that would be the county’s largest spending increase in five years.
The 4.6 percent jump comes after six budgets that closed shortfalls totaling more than $2.6 billion and eliminated more than 1,200 employees, nearly 10 percent of county government’s workforce.
His 2013 plan will enable the county to “address serious deficiencies in our ability to provide basic services,” Leggett wrote in the budget proposal—but still limits the county’s growth in spending well short of last decade’s levels.
“I want there to be no mistake: we cannot return to the unsustainable spending of the past,” he wrote.
Among the recommendations Leggett unveiled Thursday afternoon in Rockville:
- $2 billion for Montgomery County Public Schools, a $50.7 million (2.6 percent) increase over fiscal 2012
- 92 new county employee positions, including 58 for public safety
- A one-time payment of $2,000 to most county employees—including police and firefighters—rather than cost-of-living salary increases
- A 9.2 percent increase for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, to $196.6 million
- A 10 percent increase for library funding, which shrank nearly a third since fiscal 2007, the county’s hardest-hit department
- A 10.4 percent increase to the Department of Transportation, mostly to hire RideOn bus drivers and to add RideOn service in Gaithersburg, Germantown and North Potomac
- $1.5 million to help build 140 affordable housing units for seniors
- A $381,000 bump to the $218 million the county gave Montgomery College in fiscal 2012
- Raise the charge for the county’s Water Quality Protection Fund — which pays for state-mandated stormwater management reforms — from $70 per household to $92.
Under Leggett's proposal, property taxes inch up on average by $4 per home, which would keep the county’s property tax revenues level.
The $4.57 billion budget does not include room for to the county’s expense sheet in fiscal 2013 to the tune $47 million.
Montgomery County’s two operating budgets preceding Leggett’s election — fiscal 2006 and fiscal 2007 — grew by $274 million and $278.4 million, respectively.
That growth slowed over Leggett’s first three budgets. The budget shrank by $90 million in fiscal 2011, then increased $124.3 million in fiscal 2012.
Fiscal 2013 begins July 1. The County Council will hash out Leggett’s proposal in April before approving a final budget in May.
For more details and to submit your own feedback, go to the county's website.