The Montgomery County Council approved cutting the fiscal 2016 budget by $54 million this week to offset lower than expected revenues and significant income tax refunds that will need to be paid as a result of a recent Supreme Court ruling. This reduction is slightly higher than the $50.8 million proposed by County Executive Ike Leggett.
As reported by the Washington Post,
The council accepted about $36 million of Leggett’s cuts, including $10 million from Montgomery County Public Schools and $2.5 million from Montgomery College. But it also restored about $2.5 million in executive reductions to salary supplements for aides to the developmentally disabled, and housing assistance for homeless veterans and families with children. The council also walked back cuts in library materials and in deep cleaning of libraries and recreation centers.
To get to the $54 million mark in cuts, the council voted to pull from the capital improvements plan more than $18 million in tax funds earmarked for certain projects. The projects have encountered delays, so the money will not be needed this year, officials said. A contract for renovations to the council’s Maryland Avenue office building ($14.3 million) is being rebid. Delays in approval of the proposed Purple Line have freed up money ($3.8 million) that would have gone to a new entrance connecting the street-level stop on the light-rail line in Bethesda with Metro ($3.8 million).
County Executive Leggett has indicated that a property tax increase may be necessary next year. However, Council President George Leventhal stated that he would like to have “a serious conversation about the cost of government.”