Leggett Issues Line-Item Veto, Favors Stormwater Management Reform

In a rare move shortly before the end of his final term, Montgomery County Executive Isaiah Leggett issued a line-item veto of a portion of the County Council’s approved stormwater management program budget. Leggett argues that the Council overstepped its authority by prohibiting the Executive from restructuring the stormwater management program.

According to the Washington Post:

Instead of the current model of multiple contracts for designing, building and maintaining storm water projects, overseen by the county’s Department of Environmental Protection, Leggett had proposed spending $48.3 million on a contract that would consolidate all three aspects. The contract would still be overseen by the department.

Instead, the Council passed a capital budget on May 24 which would continue the existing contracting method. Environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club, lobbied to keep the program as-is. The Sierra Club argues that the Council’s decision to keep the program as it is enables better opportunity for public review:

This decision enables the continuation of stormwater management projects that were suspended, prioritizes green infrastructure, and prevents the Executive from bundling these projects into a single 5-year design-build-maintain contract. Equally important is that it enables a public review of the program and consideration of alternative implementation models, in a collaborative and transparent stakeholder process.

Leggett stated in a statement:

…[B]y a 5 to 4 majority, the Council opposed the reform of our stormwater management construction program – a decision that threatens our ability to meet important environmental goals and will certainly delay projects designed to meet our State-mandated MS4 permit — I intend to veto this line item in the Capital Budget.

We need to make this program more efficient and cost-effective. And we need to be responsive to County taxpayers who – without changes – will be paying more in stormwater management charges to get less. The status quo is unacceptable.