Lot of ‘good’ in Montgomery County’s $6.8 billion budget plan, but council leader has questions

Montgomery County, Maryland, council members began going over a $6.8 billion budget plan submitted by County Executive Marc Elrich.

In a briefing with reporters Monday, Council President Evan Glass said, “There’s a lot in this budget. There’s a lot of good,” but there are also a lot of questions.

Among those questions, Glass said, is whether the county can use one-time revenues to pay for recurring expenses.

According to a memo from legislative staff sent to the council, the fiscal year 2024 budget presents “significant growth” after two years, and it could result in a $145 million structural deficit in fiscal year 2025.

When Elrich laid out his operating budget in March, he said that calling for an increase of 10 cents on the county’s property tax rate was not a decision he came to lightly, but the county is “at an inflection point” and that an increase in the school’s budget is needed to ensure school quality and that the county remains “economically competitive.”

The memo sounds a number of cautionary notes, including concerns about inflation and a commitment to future education spending in a state formula known as the “maintenance of effort.”

Under the budget proposal, $3.2 billion of the proposed budget would go to education and that would put the school’s budget $264 million above the “maintenance of effort” formula.

The 11-member county council has the final say on the operating budget. A vote is expected in late May.

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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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