Montgomery Council Members Hear Bleak Fiscal Forecast

Montgomery County Council members received a bleak fiscal forecast this week from county officials. As reported by the Washington Post,

…if lower -than-expected tax revenues continue their current trajectory, county departments would have to take a 6.1 percent spending cut ($238 million) to produce a balanced budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

That reduction doesn’t figure in the school system, which will require an additional $25.7 million just to meet state-mandated minimum funding. Nor does it account for the cost of new public employee labor contracts that County Executive Isiah Leggett will negotiate next year.

While revenues increased for tax year 2013 closing a potential shortfall in fiscal 2015, the fiscal outlook is not as positive for fiscal 2016.

Last year “the wind was at our back,” Council administrator Stephen Farber said, with tax revenues on the upswing.

But a soft housing market, combined with unemployment and rates of personal income growth that have never reverted to robust pre-recession levels, could create headwinds, Farber said. Possible reductions in state aid and a potentially costly outcome to the Wynne tax case currently pending before the Supreme Court, also point to a more difficult fiscal environment.