Montgomery Co. Council OKs $6.3 billion preliminary budget

Montgomery County, Maryland’s county council agreed to a $6.3 billion spending plan in a vote ahead of next week’s final decision on the 2022 fiscal year budget.

Under the plan, Montgomery County Public Schools will get the greatest share of public spending — $2.7 billion. The plan includes $38.8 million toward the state school reform plan known as the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.

The funding comes as the school system projects student enrollment of 161,035 students in the next fiscal year.

Montgomery College would see an increase of $2.5 million over the state-required funding formula. The $321.8 million plan holds the line on per-credit-hour tuition rates for the third consecutive year.

The county’s police department would get more than $296 million, a 4.5% increase over the last fiscal year. Included in the budget is a collective bargaining agreement that includes pay raises for public safety positions.

Under the plan, $11 million has been committed for those with the rank of police officer through sergeant.

The fire department would receive an added $18 million over last year, resulting in a total budget or $251.8 million — that includes 33 new positions.

The $228.6 million transportation budget plan will bring Ride On bus service back to pre-pandemic levels and will include a fare of $1 for most trips. The plan features $196,800 for bikeshare station maintenance as well.

Funding for the county’s library system comes in at nearly $50 million. The budget vote statement released by the county council indicates the council will “revisit the Chevy Chase Library in the fall.”

The plan has been the subject of controversy over whether and how to provide a new facility in Chevy Chase “while also considering proposals for the creation of affordable housing” at the library location.

Thursday’s vote is not the last word on the budget. The county’s final vote comes next week.

Final vote for one third of the county council

For three members of the nine-member council, next week’s action will be their last vote on the county’s budget. Council members Nancy Navarro, Craig Rice and Hans Riemer are term-limited.

Navarro is hoping to be elected to higher office: she’s running for Lt. Governor on the ballot with Rushern Baker, a former Prince George’s County Executive who is making his second run for governor.

Council member Hans Riemer is running for Montgomery County Executive.

Craig Rice, who served in the Maryland House of Delegates before his time on the Montgomery County Council, has not made his future plans public.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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