Montgomery County Council Considers Additional Budget Items, Plan to Fully Fund Schools

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As the Montgomery County Council works to finalize its fiscal 2015 budget plan, members are recommending additions to the county executive’s proposed budget and formulating a plan to fully fund the county school system.

As reported by the Washington Post,

Council members have identified additions to County Executive Isiah Leggett’s proposed $4.8 billion operating budget for FY 2015, a “reconciliation list” that totals just over $37 million — the amount of tax dollars it would take to finance all the add-ons.

As the council debates the final budget, all “add-ons” are unlikely to be supported.  However, the additional funding items include the following:

Some of the proposed additions are subtraction. Nearly a third of the $37 million represents the projected cost of reducing the county’s 2010 expansion of its fuel energy tax by 10 percent ($11 million)…

Other major proposed additions are $3.5 million to help staff Montgomery College’s new Bioscience Education Center in Germantown; $1.4 million to increase staff, materials and hours for county libraries; and $3.7 million for tree, sidewalk and road maintenance. There are also a series of smaller proposed adds, including $127,000 for improving “management” of the deer population and $129,000 for two new corrections officers to increase perimeter security at the county jail in Clarksburg.

To fully fund public schools, the Council will consider a plan to use fund balances to meet the school system’s budget request. As reported by the Gazette:

The council’s Education Committee voted 3-0 Monday to approve a budget recommendation for Montgomery County Public Schools that meets the full amount requested by the Board of Education for fiscal 2015, which begins July 1, but does so by drawing from balances in retirement savings and other funds.

The recommendation would fund the school system at $1.476 billion, the amount required by the state’s maintenance of effort law, but then provide an extra $51.7 million from other funds to fully fund the Board of Education’s request, Council President Craig L. Rice (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown said Monday.

It would take $11.2 million from the public schools’ general fund balance, $13.3 million from the school system’s Retired Employees Group Insurance Fund balance and $27.2 million from the system’s fund to provide group insurance costs to retired employees, according to a county memorandum.

The education funding recommendation will be considered by the Council this Wednesday, May 14. A final vote on the budget, which will include resolving the additional budget items and school system funding is scheduled to take place on May 22.