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Leggett: Session Results "Mixed" for MoCo

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett said the General Assembly session that wrapped up at midnight Monday delivered "mixed" results for Montgomery.

The county avoided some potential trims to teacher pensions, he said. But he pointed to the debate over the repeal of the computer services tax as a dilemma for the county.

The General Assembly replaced the revenue that the unpopular "tech tax" would have provided with a surcharge on millionaires, cuts to transportation spending and trims in other agencies. Leggett and some Montgomery legislators are worried about the impact of the surcharge on the county.

"I was forced into a position of choosing which poison I was going to take," Leggett said.

State data show that more than 40 percent the state's approximately 6, 000 millionaires live in Montgomery County, and county officials fear the surcharge could drive them to Virginia or the District.

Leggett said he still wasn't happy about the surcharge, and pointed to alternative plans outlined by some lawmakers that would have combed the state budget further for other trims.

"I don't think they fully looked at the size of the state budget, that they can't find $200 million somewhere in order to adjust it. There should have been more exploration of that," he said.

"Now we are trying to take what we have, and the position that the county is in, and not do any further damage," Leggett said.

Leggett and the County Council are trying to find ways to stem a local shortfall of about $300 million as they fund the county's $4 billion budget, half of which goes to public schools.

By Anne Bartlett  |  April 9, 2008; 4:24 PM ET
Categories:  Miranda Spivack  
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During the 2006 campaign for County Executive my TV ads proclaimed that, "A vote for Ike Leggett is a Vote to Increase your Own Taxes," and pointed out that I would not submit a budget which exceeded the charter property tax limit while in office. Those ads couldn't have been more close to the truth. The genesis of that belief was that Leggett had voted for the supported the largest tax increase in Montgomery County history n the early l990s---a 20% increase in the county piggyback tax.

So what has he done since being elected and glorified by the Washington Post in November 2006?

First he called for "tax increases," when Governor O'Malley said he had a "deficit," in a state budget that was increasing 8.5% over the previous year. When the leader of the largest county financially in the state calls for a "tax increase," you better believe the rest of the state is gong to give him what he asks for. After Leggett let the tax increase genie out of the bottle and didn't specify a single cut in state spending, the state increased the state income tax that 2,500 county residents in the top bracket have to pay 52.63%!

And he has now called for the largest property tax increase in 20 years this year and has set us up for huge property tax increases next year and the next by approving pay increases of up to 30% for county employees. He wants to exceed the charter property tax limit and to increase property tax revenue of 14% or 420% of the increase that would be allowed by the charter property tax limit!

I know that there is always a certain amount of inertia---kids in school, etc.---that keeps people from voting with their feet. However, any wealthy person who considering moving himself or herself or their business to Montgomery County just has to look at the large income and property tax increases while Leggett has been in office to make his or her decision to move in elsewhere. Moving to someplace other than Montgomery County has been made a no-brainer by Leggett. One would have to have no financial sense or have a low Jim Kramer IQ to move here. And these property tax increases will cause foreclosures and bring about a lack of affordable housing.

And he is even still asking for a gasoline tax increase, even with gasoline headed to $4 a gallon!

Posted by: Robin Ficker, Broker Robin Realty | April 10, 2008 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Jim Cramer, sorry Jim, I was thinking of Sid Kramer.

Posted by: Robin | April 10, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Slow down & take your medication Robin.

Posted by: Fickered Out | April 10, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Leggett is going to run for re-election County Executive Ficker.

Posted by: Leggett is a one termer | April 11, 2008 4:00 AM | Report abuse

Ficker, if life is so bad in MoCo that people are moving out because of it, then why don't you join them and annoy Fairfax, Howard, or PG County instead?

Posted by: If it's so bad | April 11, 2008 7:11 AM | Report abuse

Well, while I think MoCo is still the best place on the East Coast to live, Ficker is serving a very important purpose. I almost always disagree with Ficker, but without frank criticism (while not always constructive), a government will not stay on its toes nor maximum effectiveness.

I think Leggett is doing the best job he can, with the nation's economy in decline and rapid change occurring. Maintaining a community/culture/way of life in times like these is almost impossible. Whether Leggett and MoCo succeed in these times will require all our committment (and also the committment of critics, opponents, and sour-pusses).

TGIF to all.

Posted by: Donny | April 11, 2008 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Donny, you are absolutely right.

My issue with Robin is when he misstates and exaggerates, which is all too often. It's first-ammendment protected speech, but that doesn't make it any less wrong, especially when it can hurt others inappropriately.

Posted by: If It's so bad | April 11, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

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