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MoCo Council Chooses Andrews As President

Without debate, the Montgomery County Council today unanimously elected Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville) as its president and Roger Berliner (Potomac-Bethesda) as vice president as the panel confronts a budget shortfall that has doubled since September.

Andrews, a former executive director of Common Cause of Maryland first elected in 1998, succeeds Michael Knapp (D-Upcounty) for a one-year term. In taking the gavel, Andrews called on county workers to forgo planned pay raises to help close a projected $515 million shortfall and for a series of legislative changes to make the government more open and accessible to residents.

Andrews is one of County Executive Isiah Leggett's (D) closest political allies on the nine-member council, but he is not afraid to challenge Leggett on policy when he disagrees. He has been the most outspoken opponent of Leggett's proposed ambulance transport fee because of his concern that residents would hesitate to call for emergency services.

In his decade on the council, Andrews has been out front on several issues that were initially slow to gain traction with his colleagues. He was the leading sponsor of the county's living-wage law and restrictions on smoking in restaurants.

Andrews, 49, is also one of the most fiscally conservative members of the council. He was a leading voice during last spring's budget debate for rolling back employee raises if property taxes were going to rise for homeowners. He called today for tackling Montgomery's underlying imbalance between spending and revenue.

"The county cannot sustain simultaneously the size of the current workforce and provide the level of pay increases employees expect and continue to obligate future taxpayers to ever-larger retire health care and pension benefits," he said. "We need to scale down in a thoughtful and targeted way the size of the workforce."

The selection of Berliner, an energy lawyer elected in 2006, puts him in line to succeed Andrews next year.

By Anne Bartlett  |  December 2, 2008; 2:53 PM ET
Categories:  Ann Marimow , Montgomery County  
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Prez Elect Andrews: Please do something with the tax and spend mentality in MoCo. Our tax assessment is higher than what we can sell our house for and we live in a nice area. We tried, the market is down and yet the tax bills keep rolling in every year without any rhyme or reason. It is ridiculous. We tried to appeal, as did many others, but got a form letter...nice! We tried calling and got passed off to someone else and still no response.

Please stop spending. Stop giving in to greedy unions, special interest groups, Casa de Maryland, La Raza and other County cronies who always have their hands out. Be fiscally responsible to the majority who pay your salary and those of other County employees.

Do something about the illegal immigration problem. There is a crime wave going on and eldery, the young and women are being targeted. This is an outrage.

MoCo is not an ATM. It will not be a good Xmas for my family because our tax bill is due and we have a flood in our basement.
People are angry, the passing of the Ficker amendment is just the beginning. Get ready for major tax revolt if real estate taxes are raised again. You can stop this insanity. Stand up to the unions and show you have a backbone and a brain.

Posted by: laurabunny | December 2, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

How can the Post call Phil Andrews a fiscal conservative when he has voted in four separate years to exceed the charter property tax limit?

Posted by: robinfickerofrobinrealty | December 2, 2008 7:21 PM | Report abuse

"one of the most fiscally conservative members of the council."

Last year there were eight members of the council to vote on the budget. Mrs. Praisner had passed away and Mr. Praisner, her replacement, said he would not vote on the budget, and he did not. Hence, it took only two NO votes out of eight on the council on the budget to stop the 13.5% increase in property tax bills which which was 400% of what the charter property tax revenue limit allowed.

THERE WERE NO MEMBERS ON THE COUNCIL WHO VOTED AGAINST THE BUDGET THAT INCLUDED A 13.5%PROPERTY TAX INCREASE AND A 10% ENERGY TAX INCREASE. All it took was two votes to stop it and the votes were not there. So for the Washington Post to even hint that anyone on the council who voted for that budget and who voted in three other years, FY 03, FY04, and FY05, is a fiscal conservative is pure horse manure and a rewrite of history.

Mr. Praisner is the only member of the council who has a fiscally conservative bone in his body.

And voting to replace property taxes with energy taxes, other taxes, or user fees is just a shell game, not fiscal conservatism.

Posted by: robinfickerofrobinrealty | December 3, 2008 2:54 AM | Report abuse

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