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Montgomery budget gap nearing $200 million next year, Leggett says

By Michael Laris
Montgomery County

Montgomery County executive Isiah Leggett (D) has told officials that the county faces a gap of nearly $200 million in next year's budget--and that national election results earlier this month could make things worse.

The midterm results--namely Republicans' imminent control of the House of Representatives--will "very likely lead to a reduction in federal grants and other aid to the County and the State, reduced federal spending locally, as well as potential reductions in federal hiring and wages," Leggett wrote in a letter to the county council released Thursday. "All of these would adversely affect County income tax and other revenue streams."

Leggett said the $28 million in lost revenues over two years because of a defeated ambulance fee referendum is just part of the problem. School spending will also need to rise more quickly than expected, Leggett said, adding that it will cost the county $13.5 million more than originally projected to meet state school funding requirements. Health care costs are also up sharply, adding tens of millions of dollars in unanticipated costs, officials said.

Leggett said he would come forward with a "savings plan" in December detailing proposals for what to do now to get ahead of next year's budget problem. He argued for a sense of urgency by the council, which votes on such potential cuts. In September, the Leggett administration had estimated the gap for fiscal year 2012 at at least $145 million. But that figure now stands at "close to $200 million," Leggett said.

"I understand the Council's desire to avoid these spending cuts and the resulting reductions in County services, so do I," Leggett wrote. "However, economic conditions, downward revenue trends, and the rejection of the [Emergency Medical Services Transport] fee permit no alternative course of action to maintaining a responsible and balanced budget."

Council president Nancy Floreen (D-At Large) said the county took tough steps last year to outline limits on spending over a six-year period to keep the county's budget balanced. That, she said, is what Leggett and the executive branch are now "bumping up against."

"Montgomery is not different than the state of Maryland or, at this point, the federal government in terms of looking at a disconnect between resources and the cost of government," Floreen said.

Floreen said Leggett's letter represents "a notice to the public that we're going to have to tighten our belts even tighter than Ike had initially proposed."

By Michael Laris  | November 11, 2010; 4:54 PM ET
Categories:  Michael Laris, Montgomery County  | Tags:  montgomery budget  
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Comments

Government needs to get out of the business of charity.

Posted by: b1978367 | November 11, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

And by the time next year arrives, the gap will be $400 million.

The cost of educating, medicating, and feeding all those anchor babies is starting to add up, wouldn't you say?

Posted by: postisarag | November 11, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

And the worst thing about it is instead of injecting some new blood, we just re-elect more of the same. Maybe we deserve what we're getting.

Posted by: island1 | November 11, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Did I read that right? "Leggett said the $28 million in lost revenues over two years because of a defeated ambulance fee referendum is just part of the problem." Hold on....This was a referendum vote just to weeks ago. It was voted down. But as I read this, he called it "lost revenue". If it had never been approved, then exactly when was it ever "revenue" in the first place. We are reduced to a system where people claim that money they never had (mine and yours) was theirs lost. What has the world come to? How does nobody else see the shame in this?

Posted by: dokane | November 11, 2010 11:04 PM | Report abuse

dokane, the law was passed and then defeated after the volunteer firefighters got enough signatures on their petition to make it a ballot item.

Posted by: reiflame1 | November 12, 2010 7:37 AM | Report abuse

I can tell you that $500K of this was created by sticking a huge and hideous plastic tot park in a neighborhood which voted against the destruction of its open meadow. The meadow used to be used for picnics, block parties, etc., until MoCo decided it had to destroy open space. And guess what? There's a tot park around the corner on Cedar Lane.
Wonder what else MoCo is throwing away money on. And after this ridiculous expenditure, I read that they wanted to furlough firefighters.

Posted by: cococo | November 12, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

There are allegedly 1,100 school employees who make $150,000 per year. Eliminate 100 of these positions and save $15 million right there. I don;'t work for the county but I bet that these positions are not teachers and their elimination would have no impact on everyday teaching. Of course, you could also eliminate the so called "special advisers" e.g. plum political appointees in Leggetts and the council offices and probably save millions more.

Posted by: VikingRider | November 12, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Yes, they were voted back in again. Does anyone wonder not why but HOW? When I voted and tried to present my ID (which I realized didn't show any real proof of being ALLOWED to vote-no real proof involved in obtaining those ID's for so long in MD.)- I was waived off with "NO, ma'am, just state your address." Really? People who benefit off of having one party in control could have voted at each school at least once using different names and addresses. My neighbor figured it could have been by district if one went to each school to vote, at least 20 times. Good lord, prople can use recently deceased people's names and addresses if no serious ID is required to vote. This is a frightening issue that effects everyone who pays taxes and beyond. We all know that MoCo would never cut the fat from pet projects-people make far too much money from them. Bring back Thomas Dagley and the like to really uncover these issues.

Posted by: stopthemadness | November 12, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

This is what happens when you invite and then have a wholesale immigration of illegal aliens and other low income people. Much more than those that pay taxes can deal with. Couple this with the Cadillac mentality of the County Government, bowing to the Unions and an economy that is going south and this is to be expected. The County could dial back to the 2008 levels and be okay but they will never do that.

Posted by: Pilot1 | November 12, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Maybe if people weren't constructing $65,000 bathrooms, we wouldn't have this problem. Why idiots re-elected him, I'll never know. It's almost getting to be like DC, where anybody with a D in front of their name is automatic. Pathetic really.

Posted by: futbolclif | November 12, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Montgomery County needs to reduce spending , and reduce taxes for all !! To start , get rid of the Liquior, Beer Control warehouses , distribution ,,, this belongs to private companies ,, and will save taxpayers lots of $$ , second , get rid of high paid school employees.. and re-negoiate with the Teachers Union .. to reduce pay and retirement benefits... the county residents just can't afford to pay high teachers benefits ,, excellent retirement packages etc. ... millions can be saved !!!

Posted by: water555 | November 12, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Montgomery County needs to reduce spending , and reduce taxes for all !! To start , get rid of the Liquior, Beer Control warehouses , distribution ,,, this belongs to private companies ,, and will save taxpayers lots of $$ , second , get rid of high paid school employees.. and re-negoiate with the Teachers Union .. to reduce pay and retirement benefits... the county residents just can't afford to pay high teachers benefits ,, excellent retirement packages etc. ... millions can be saved !!!

Posted by: water555 | November 12, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Not only does Mo.Co. need to renegotiate union contracts they need to cut $$ from all the non profits it supports. LEDC, Impact look them up folks you are paying taxes to keep a bunch of people that campaign for politicians employeed. Check out the amount of $ non profits receive from Mo.Co.

Posted by: agwilson1399 | November 16, 2010 3:32 AM | Report abuse

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