No glitz in 2016 Montgomery Co. budget

WASHINGTON — No glitzy new initiatives. No big-ticket projects. Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett calls his FY2016 budget a “same-services” plan: one that seeks to enhance services where it can while avoiding expenses that could come back to haunt the county.

“I do not want to make any mistakes in this budget,” Leggett told a crowd at his budget announcement.  “I want to be cautious.”

The $5.1 billion budget proposal gives Montgomery County Schools $30 million more than last year, while Montgomery College gets just $2 million more. Leggett acknowledged that some departments would come away with less.

“I know that there are some disappointments, I know that people wanted more,” Leggett said.

The property tax rate will actually drop by a penny, but homeowners could see their tax bills go up by about $15 dollars. According to Leggett’s budget that’s a result of increased tax assessments.

Montgomery County Board of Education President Patricia O’Neill said, “We knew there would be some challenges. It’s a conservative budget.”

As a result, Mongomgery County Public Schools has planned to hold back on funding nearly 370 classroom positions. O’Neill says restoration of funding requests could come depending on what lawmakers in Annapolis decide to do about state spending.

Montgomery County Council President George Leventhal called the budget plan a “solid foundation.” The county council will hold budget hearings starting next month.

Leggett’s budget recommendation does contain a raise for county workers; a 2 percent increase for county employees after what he said were years of sacrifices where positions were cut, workers were furloughed and employees saw changes in their health and retirement benefits.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. 

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