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Stormwater runoff causes new council rift

  • Published in Local

countysealThe final votes to approve the County’s operating and capital budget are usually a formality, with both budgets almost always passing unanimously.

However, last week Council member Nancy Floreen (D-at large), voted against the County’s capital budget, saying she could not support a budget that cut many stormwater management projects. While Floreen was the lone vote against the capital budget, she is not alone in the way some Council members feel about County Executive Ike Leggett's proposed capital budget, particularly about how it affects the County’s stormwater management programs.

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Council approves additional funding to Leggett’s budget

  • Published in Local

countysealThe Montgomery County Council unanimously approved an additional $14.8 million to the budget on its reconciliation list as the Council is set to give final approval to the budget Thursday.

The $14.8 million is a part of the Council reconciliation list, spending that was not originally included in the County Executive’s proposed budget and that the Council’s various committees voted to add through their weeks of meetings.

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Rockville passes budget with no tax increase

  • Published in Local

Seal of Rockville MdThe Rockville Mayor and City Council adopted their 2019 fiscal year budget, keeping property tax rates the same for yet another year.

Rockville’s $136.2-million budget is a 4.5-percent increase from last year’s budget, which will help supplement the 4.5-percent wage increase City employees are set to see under the new budget. The increases allow the City to add several new positions in City government, including two additional police officers, one GIS/Asset Management support specialist, one urban forestry maintenance worker, and one information systems security engineer.

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Takoma Park passes new fiscal year budget

  • Published in Local

takoma park logoTAKOMA PARK — The Takoma Park City Council passed its FY2018-2019 budget Wednesday evening with a unanimous vote.

“I think the process worked well this year … the proposal from the city manager seemed to reflect the priorities that we defined earlier and … not increasing taxes was important to many people,” said Ward 4 Council member Terry Seamens.

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Metro approves budget with no fare increase

  • Published in Local

metro logoWASHINGTON, D.C. — The Metro Board of Directors unanimously voted to not increase fares when it approved its operating and capital budgets for Fiscal Year 2019, providing at least one year of fare relief after an increase to fares last year.

Finance committee chairman Michael Goldman, who represents Montgomery County, said a highlight in the approved operating budget was the absence of service cuts and fare increases.

“[Maintaining fares and service levels], that reduced the amount of controversy and it also sticks to the general manager’s commitment to keep the subsidy [request] increase to the jurisdictions to 3 percent from the prior year,” Goldman said Thursday.

WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld in his proposed FY ’19 budget said he planned to put a 3 percent cap, or limit, on the semi-annual increase in operating budget requests to the funding jurisdictions. A year ago, Metro’s Board of Directors approved and adopted the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, which included fare increases to both bus and rail. The Metro Board raised fares for FY ’18 by 25 cents per bus trip and about 10 cents per mile on Metrorail. Spokesperson Dan Stessel said at the time it was the first fare increase in three years, and that normally the board of directors follows a model of increasing fares every other year.

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Leggett proposes modest spending increase

  • Published in Local

County Executive Ike Leggett.  FILE PHOTOCounty Executive Ike Leggett.      FILE PHOTO  Calling it a prudent attempt to guide Montgomery County through fiscal uncertainty, County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) released the final budget proposal of his last term as county executive Thursday, putting forward a $5.56 billion operating budget – increasing spending by 2 percent – for Fiscal Year 2019, with most of the increase directed to Montgomery County Public Schools.

“This budget continues my commitment to prudent fiscal policies critical to sound fiscal management,” Leggett said. “I have increased our reserve levels to cushion the taxpayers against any future unanticipated economic setbacks and included the required level of funding for retiree health benefits."

Leggett had stressed caution in the weeks leading up to the budget announcement, promising that it would not include a property tax increase, with the caveat that it was unlikely that he would propose drastic spending increases in most areas thanks to the current budget’s $120 million shortfall.

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Facing staff shortages, Takoma Park discusses upcoming budget

  • Published in Local

Takoma Park Govt logoTAKOMA PARK — With the upcoming budget season, some of Takoma Park’s department managers asserted at a priorities meeting on March 1 that current staff shortages limit the ability of municipal departments to carry out the objectives laid out by the City Council.

“Our workload exceeds our staff capacity by an amazing amount,” said Sarah Anne Daines, the city’s Housing and Community Development director. “There’s a lot of commitment in terms of staff, time and energy in making those efforts come to reality.”

As the City Council discussed its budget priorities for the 2018-19 fiscal year, several other department managers said they run programs with limited staff.

“We have a small city staff that does a great deal and their commitment to carrying out the Council’s priorities has been terrific,” Mayor Kate Stewart said. “With a small staff, it’s important to recognize the need to possibly add more staff.”

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County budget process runs into new problems

  • Published in Local

MoCo LogoGERMANTOWN — The budget process for County Executive Isiah Leggett’s last year in office takes place during a time of uncertainty.

Leggett has bragged to residents about the County’s low unemployment rate, its “triple A” bond rating and its growing reserves, as he has toured the County to talked to residents as part of his series of annual budget forums. Yet, as the term-limited Democrat prepares to submit his final budget to the County Council by March 4, the County that Leggett has served for many years is in the grips of an unexpected budget shortfall.

“My first objective is to try to do no harm,” Leggett said, “to provide the services and the programs for the things that we are already funding where it makes sense for us to continue that. Once we achieved that objective, then I would look to try to expand beyond that depending on the level of resources available.”

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Rockville optimistic about budget status

  • Published in Local

Even as Montgomery County prepares for significant budget cuts to cover the $120 million budget shortfall that finance officials discovered for this fiscal year, Rockville City officials said their budget revenues are looking just fine.

“It’s an interesting contrast between the County and the City, in my opinion, the county always budgets to the bone and to have a budget crisis is pretty much usual,” said Rockville City Council Member Mark Pierzchala.

Last week Montgomery County officials suggested that the cause of the $120 million budget shortfall was a downturn in income tax receipts, which they attributed to choices made by large investors in anticipation of a large tax break from the Republican tax bill, which President Trump has pledged to sign early next year.

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Berliner says “NO” to cuts in education while Leggett mulls options

  • Published in Local

MoCo LogoROCKVILLE — No program is safe from cuts as the County seeks to mitigate the effects of a projected budget shortfall next fiscal year, County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) said.

Last week Leggett announced that the County officials were anticipating a large unexpected budget shortfall, and asked that each County agency consider cutting two percent of their budget.

The sudden shortfall caught County finance analysts and council members by surprise as they based their $5.4 billion budget for the fiscal year 2018 off of much greater revenue projections.

"For me, everything is on the table, and you try to work through the particular details," Leggett said of the coming budget cuts.

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