First, here’s the letter the eight of the nine County Council members issued early yesterday afternoon.
Statement by Montgomery County Council President Katz and Councilmembers Albornoz, Friedson, Glass, Jawando, Navarro, Rice and Riemer on the County Executive’s Fiscal Year 2021 $5.9 Billion Operating Budget Recommendation
ROCKVILLE, Md., March 16, 2020—Montgomery County Council President Sidney Katz and Councilmembers Gabe Albornoz, Andrew Friedson, Evan Glass, Will Jawando, Nancy Navarro, Craig Rice and Hans Riemer, made the following statement on County Executive Marc Elrich’s proposed 3.18 cent property tax increase in the fiscal year 2021 Recommended Operating Budget:
“Our focus in the midst of an unprecedented health emergency must be on bringing together businesses and residents, nonprofits and government to address the immediate crisis we face. We also must provide as much certainty and support as we can for county residents who understandably fear what the economic realities of this global pandemic will have on their jobs, retirement savings, small businesses and families.
This is a time for cautious decision-making, not property tax increases. We look forward to working with the County Executive to address the initiatives in his budget recommendations.”
Second, here’s the letter the County Executive released 45 minutes after the Council letter.
As required by the County Charter, I submitted my annual budget to the County Council earlier today. My staff and I have been working on
this budget for more than six months. During that time, we received budget
requests from the community, the school system, our departments and Councilmembers that help to shape this budget proposal. The three-cent increase is a special tax that is specifically designed for education and would help to fund the budget request from Montgomery County Public Schools.
At the time that we were developing this budget, COVID-19 was not on the horizon and now, during these unique and difficult times, we have to factor in its impact. I stand by the need for us to increase our investment in education, but I understand the unique situation that we are currently in. We have all known from the beginning that funding the school system’s request could not be funded within anticipated revenues and, as we
have been working at the State level to increase school funding through the
Build Act and Kirwan, I believe that we should make the additional investment in schools that they need today, even if it required a special tax increase dedicated to the schools.
I combined this proposed three-cent special schools tax increase with a $108 increase in the County’s property tax credit so that a homeowner with a $500,000 home would see about a $42 annual tax increase—the three cents would raise the taxes by $150, but combined with the County
property tax, the net increase is $42. A one million dollar home would have a net $192 per year increase.
As in every budget cycle, I have informed the Council that I will work with it to find ways to deal with the budget. Dealing with today’s emergency situation and having a long overdue community conversation about the future we want to build for our County will be a challenge in coming weeks.
The challenges we face in areas such as education, economic development
and transportation will still be there long after this crisis is over and we
can’t take our eyes off the future no matter how hard those decisions will be.
I know that in today’s context it is hard to determine what the future looks
like, but we will balance addressing our present situation with planning for
the future of this County. And we will do it together.
To learn more about the County Executive’s proposed operating budget, go to https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/operatingbudget