Politics and Policy

County Revenue and Budget

Latest update.

Upcoming public hearings are scheduled for April 19 and April 20 at 1:30 p.m. and April 19, 20 and 21 at 7 p.m. 

Residents can sign up to testify both in-person and virtually via Zoom for the daytime public hearings on April 19 and 20. The evening public hearings on April 19, 20 and 21 will be conducted virtually. Residents can sign up through the Council’s calendar or by calling 240-777-7803. The deadline to sign up to testify is April 18 at 5 p.m.

Operating Budget.

March 15, 2022: From the Bethesda Beat

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich proposed a $6.3 billion county operating budget for next year, up $300 million from this year, and with no increase in the property tax rate. His administration said the budget focuses on affordable housing, climate change issues and increasing police salaries, among other areas.The overall operating budget proposed for next year represents roughly a 5% increase from this year’s budget.

The budget proposal also includes $3.3 million for Montgomery College to establish an East County Education Center. In an interview, Jermaine Williams, the president of the college, highlighted that funding. 

The budget includes roughly $140 million for affordable housing projects and initiatives. That includes $40 million of one-time funding for a “naturally occurring affordable housing” fund. Madaleno said that funding is possible because of higher than expected revenues. 

The fund, Madaleno said, is meant to prevent rental hikes in areas prone to increasing rents, such as along the future Purple Line light rail and other transit corridors.

Aseem Nigam, the director of the county’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs, said in an interview he hopes that fund can preserve at least a few thousand units, particularly in those transit corridors. He said the county is anticipated to lose 7,000 to 11,000 units of “naturally occurring affordable housing” because of market pressures and other factors.

He hopes the fund can be continued in future years, but that depends on future revenue and funding sources.

“We are of the opinion that this kind of fund, by itself, will send a signal to the development community that we are serious about affordable housing,” Nigam said.

The budget also proposes an increase in police officer salaries by roughly 10%, making them more competitive with other jurisdictions around the region, Madaleno said. Roughly $8 million is allocated to pay for that, he said.

Two climate initiatives funded in the budget proposal are due to legislation — one bill passed by the County Council and one still in the legislative pipeline.

About $18.6 million would go to the county’s Green Bank to help with capital projects to make buildings more environmentally friendly. That money comes from the county’s energy use tax, as outlined in a bill the County Council passed allocating at least 10% of that tax to the Green Bank. 

The budget also allocates $1 million to start implementing aspects of the building energy performance standards bill, which the council is considering. That bill is meant to set standards for several types of buildings countywide, to make them more environmentally friendly

The operating and capital budget will have multiple public hearings and council work sessions in the coming weeks. The County Council can add or subtract from any line item in the budget and must act on it by June 1, according to the county charter.

The council must approve any tax levies, if necessary to finance the budget, by June 30, according to the charter. 

Updated 03/24/2022

Capital Budget.

On January 18, County Executive Elrich unveiled a $5.1 billion capital budget for FY2022-2023 focusing on education, climate change, racial equity.  Elrich allocated $1.822 billion for MCPS, 3.1% more than the $1.767 billion the district requested. The district requested 9.2% more than in the most recently approved capital budget. Overall, the budget is up 17.2% from the last capital budget the County Council approved, which was in 2020. A capital budget is only introduced every two years, in even-numbered years.  See this summary in Bethesda BeatDetailed information is available on the County’s website.

Updated 01/30/2022

 

County Revenue

Issue: How can the county increase revenues over the longer term so it can meet its budget requirements while balancing concerns for the environment, transportation, and schools. This is likely to be a major issue in the 2022 election for County Executive.

Background: For several years, the county has been experiencing low economic growth because of the lack of job creation and a low rate of establishment of new businesses in the private sector in comparison to nearby counties and other jurisdictions. 

Two 2020 council initiatives aimed at improving the county’s long term economic condition were passed recently over the County Executive’s veto.

  • Council Bill 29-20 as passed offers 15-year property tax breaks on Metro development projects in the hope that this will spur high rise development activity near Metro stations. 
  • The Council modified and then accepted the County Planning Board’s updated Subdivision Staging Policy, now referred to as Growth and Infrastructure Policy.  See this website for details. This policy requires the government to evaluate public infrastructure capacities, such as schools and roads, to determine whether they are sufficient to support a proposed development project before approving that project.  According to some, the changes to the policy reflect more of an emphasis on growth rather than on balancing the infrastructure to support new development. 

Updated 01/30/2022

State Revenue and Budget Outlook – FY2022 and Beyond

Issue: What is the outlook for the state budget in FY2023 and beyond

Latest Updates:

Revenue 2022-23:

The following is from Delegate Marc Korman, District 16, a member of House of Delegates Appropriations Committee: 

Last week, the Maryland Board of Revenue Estimates issued its March revision. Long story short, it is good news as income and sales tax revenue have come in at higher levels than expected, leading to an upward revision. These revisions are actually conservative, as personal income tax growth–for example–has been up 11.3% so far and would have to plummet to less than 1.9% to hit the estimate. Employment is still below pre-pandemic levels by 100,000 jobs and, despite these strong aggregate figures, many are suffering. Inflation and the geopolitical situation also create risk–to revenue and to health and safety and security. You can read the full deck here: https://t.co/5fOaUw1MUZ  The official write-up is here: https://t.co/mIZh67BZGs And the full meeting can be watched here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gi3xLvliTW0

Budget 2022-23

The following is from Delegate Marc Korman, District 16, a member of House of Delegates Appropriations Committee: 

The Governor’s 2022-2023 budget proposal has been released. The budget is the one bill the Maryland General Assembly is constitutionally required to pass each year and it has two major components:

Maryland’s current budget picture is bright, with surpluses projected between now and fiscal year 2027.  The Governor’s budget includes:

  • Almost fully funds all statutory formulas for education and other programs established by the General Assembly, including the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future which Governor Hogan spent years saying was unaffordable (the one exception is for an education program that does not impact Montgomery County but underfunds a program for Baltimore City and Prince George’s County).
  • Holds tuition increases at Maryland’s higher education institutions to 2%.
  • Funds several social safety net programs, including expanding by $5 million a summer Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps) program which I helped to start.
  • Provides pay increases for state employees, although non-law enforcement workers continue to receive much smaller increases.
  • Makes the actuarially required payment to the state pension and two additional payments required by law, leaving the pension funded at 76.9% and rising.
  • Provides approximately $1 billion for school construction, including funds from the Built to Learn Act, which uses the state’s casino revenue to issue bonds to support school construction.
  • Continues the legislatively established Local Parks and Playground Infrastructure program for another year.
  • Fully funds Maryland’s contribution to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA), including dedicated funding which I sponsored and worked on with our regional partners in 2018.
  • Funds Purple Line business impact grants that the Montgomery County Delegation has fought so hard for.
  • Projects the continuation of the Highway User Revenue (HUR) program that dedicates transportation dollars to local governments.

There are obviously a lot more provisions, but the Governor’s budget starts from a relatively strong position.  The General Assembly will spend the next few months going through it in more detail.  As a reminder, until next year the General Assembly cannot add funds to an operating budget program, but only remove them.  

The General Assembly received the annual overview of the budget known as the fiscal briefing.You can watch the full briefing here.

Or read the presentation here.

Updated 01/30/2022

State Legislative Plans and Actions – 2022

Latest Update: The legislature’s Department of Legislative Services has issued its informational report on various issues to assist members in their deliberations during the 2022 legislative session. This document is a compilation of the issue papers arranged by major subject area topic. The information reflects the status of the topics as of November 2021.

The legislature’s Department of Legislative Services has issued its summary report of the 2021 session.

Updated 01/30/2022

Archived but Important

2020 Ballot Questions

Both the State and the County had important constitutional and charter questions on the 2020 ballot.

State Ballot Questions

Background:  In November 2020 Maryland voters approved two state ballot questions: 1]  A constitutional amendment that authorizes the General Assembly, beginning in FY2024, to increase, diminish, or add items to the budget as long as it does not exceed the proposed budget submitted by the governor; and 2] A referendum to approve the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize sports and events betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education.

More Information:  See the PRA Fall 2020 newsletter.

County Ballot Questions

Background:  In November 2020 Montgomery County voters approved two county ballot questions:  1] To remove a cap that limits how much the county’s property tax revenue can increase in a single year. Requires all nine council members to approve an increase in the tax rate; and 2] To expand the council from nine seats to 11 seats. Seven members would be elected by district. The other four seats would remain at large.

More Information: See the PRA Fall 2020 newsletter.

updated 01/05/2021