As MACo previously reported, Montgomery County Executive and MACo Treasurer Isiah Leggett unveiled his FY 2012 budget proposal last week. The $4.35 billion budget calls for filling a $300 million shortfall through program cuts, increased taxes and fees, and increased contribution from government employees for health care and pension plans. While the FY 2012 budget will not be voted on by the council until May, responses to the proposed cuts for library, health services, and employee benefits have been particularly evident. The Gazette reports:
Already some County Council members say they would like to restore some money for health programs, and council President Valerie Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring is questioning Leggett’s recommendation on employee benefits.
However, some council members said Leggett did not make as many cuts as they had anticipated.
“Nothing was hit as hard as I was expecting,” said Councilman Hans Riemer (D-At large) of Silver Spring. “I was told to expect cuts, like laying off police officers, closing recreation centers and dramatic reductions to various services.”
Riemer said he also was concerned about consolidating much of the staff in the county’s Regional Service Centers, office of Community Partnerships, and commissions for Human Rights and Women into a new Office of Community Engagement.
Although Leggett’s budget slashes his own office’s budget by 20 percent, much of that money is shifted to the new Office of Community Engagement and not eliminated from the budget.
Councilwoman Nancy M. Navarro (D-Dist. 4) of Silver Spring pointed out the proposed Office of Community Engagement would have 15 managers and between four and six frontline workers.
“This proposal is a little odd,” she said. “Maybe maintain two directors and keep the frontline staff.”
She also noted that while the consolidation abolishes 15 full- and part-time positions, most of the highest-paid employees have been spared.
Riemer also said he was concerned about cuts to the library budget.
The libraries would have a budget of $26.14 million in fiscal 2012 under Leggett’s plan, down from about $40 million in fiscal 2008.
Impact on county departments of the proposed Montgomery County budget for FY 2012:
- Montgomery County Council: From $8.7 million in fiscal 2011 to $8.47 million in fiscal 2012 (2.7 % decrease)
- County attorney: From $4.5 million in fiscal 2011 to $4.04 million in fiscal 2012 (11.3 % decrease)
- Ethics Commission: From $218,250 in fiscal 2011 to $191,430 in fiscal 2012 (12.3 % decrease)
- Correction and Rehabilitation: From $61.81 million in fiscal 2011 to $61.19 million in fiscal 2012 (1 % decrease)
- Fire and Rescue Services: From $182.63 million in fiscal 2011 to $179.38 million in fiscal 2012 (1.8 % decrease)
- Health and Human Services: From $174.84 million in fiscal 2011 to $169.12 million in fiscal 2012 (5.3 % decrease)
- Public libraries: From $28.95 million in fiscal 2011 to $26.14 million in fiscal 2012 (a 9.7 % decrease)