County Executive Marc Elrich Recommends Property Tax Increase to be Used Exclusively to Fully Fund School System’s Budget Request.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich unveiled his recommended fiscal 2024 Operating Budget of $6.8 billion, an increase of 7.7 percent from the current year’s budget. The recommended budget reflects a record level and significant investments for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), Montgomery College, affordable housing, economic development, public safety, and efforts to combat climate change.
“While the federal funding to assist residents impacted by the pandemic has reached its end, the need for services and assist remains great,” said County Executive Elrich. “County expenditures are higher because we choose to continue funding programs that support residents who need help stabilizing their lives while facing the realities of the highly competitive labor market and tremendous inflation. This budget is about maintaining services and the social safety net we created during the pandemic while also providing record funding for education, affordable housing, combatting climate change, and public safety.”
This recommended budget meets the request of the Board of Education – a record $296 million above the funding provided in fiscal 2023 and $264 million over maintenance of effort. According to County Executive Elrich, this funding is needed to recruit and retain outstanding educators, teachers, and other essential school staff and address the increase in special education enrollment. In addition, additional funding is necessary to improve student performance.
To meet these critical needs, County Executive Elrich recommends a 10-cent increase in the County’s property tax rate; all the revenue generated will be exclusively directed to MCPS. This increase is to correct an ongoing imbalance in per-student spending.
Considering inflation, the total per-student appropriation peaked around fiscal 2010 and has never fully recovered. Adjusted for inflation, per pupil spending has gone down more than $3,000 compared to 2010. Although nominal per-student spending has increased in the past few years, real spending has declined slightly.
Montgomery County currently has the lowest commercial and second lowest residential property taxes in the National Capital region. Regarding per-pupil spending, Montgomery County is now fifth among the largest school systems in the state. Montgomery County will become the third highest in the state for per-pupil spending if the County Council approves the proposed ten-cent tax increase by a majority vote.
Highlights of the Fiscal 2024 Recommended Operating Budget:
- Preserves vital services for county residents
- Includes reserve balance of 11.4 percent, $86 million above the 10 percent reserve target
- Fully funds MCPS’ request at $3.2 billion and provides a record funding increase of $223 million over last year’s budget
- $264 million above the State’s Maintenance of Effort requirement
- Additional revenue is raised with a proposed $0.10 property tax increase solely devoted to schools
- Allocates approximately $124 million to expand the preservation and production of affordable housing
- $61.7 million for Vision Zero traffic, bicyclist, and pedestrian efforts
- Record funding for climate change and environmental initiatives
- Additional investments in economic development and workforce training
- Reestablishes funding for the Office of the Peoples Counsel
- Provides additional support for the County’s community partners
- Applies racial equity and climate change lenses that are reflected in decisions throughout the budget
- Most extensive public outreach for a budget with eight budget forums – including dedicated Spanish-language and Chinese-language forums
The County Charter requires the County Executive to present a recommended budget by March 15 each year. The County Council will review the recommended budget over the next two months. The Council will adopt the new County budget in late May. The new budget will go into effect on July 1.