Montgomery Council list of budget adds tops $18.3 million -- Gazette.Net






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As Montgomery County Council finalizes its fiscal 2014 budget in the next few days it must reconcile $18.3 million of potential additional expenses with as much as $11.6 million of potentially less revenue.

The council is scheduled to reach a tentative agreement on the budget on Thursday and then sit on its decision for a week before taking a final vote on May 23.

Additional expenditures council members have proposed for the budget fill the first three pages of a ledger known as the reconciliation list.

All told, those additions by council members total $18.3 million.

The final page reflects the six options the council will consider for decreasing the energy tax that would decrease overall revenue between $5.8 million and $11.6 million.

In a memorandum to the council, staff indicated that there is $6.6 million of wiggle-room available for the items on its list. But, depending on what the council decides to do with the energy tax, revenue available for the budget could fall further, taking with it all or some of that fungibility.

County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) has asked the council not to mess too much with his $4.8 billion spending plan.

Leggett wrote Council President Nancy Navarro (D-Dist 4) of Silver Spring on Monday asking the council to carefully consider each additional dollar and where it might find the money, warning councilmembers to avoid tapping into reserves or reducing payments to the retiree health benefit plan.

“As I have stated previously, my highest priority is ensuring that we continue to improve our fiscal stability,” he wrote. “We have worked tirelessly and collaboratively to turn the County’s financial ship around, and I would urge the Council not to retreat from this goal at this critical juncture.”

Leggett said many of the items on the list were not one-time expenditures but long-term changes.

If the council approves everything on the reconciliation list, Leggett wrote that it would increase overall spending 25 percent above what he proposed, or 5.1 percent above the fiscal 2013 budget.

Executive Spokesman Patrick Lacefield said his side of the street is concerned that the council would drive up the expenditures. He also said there have been rumblings that the council could go after funding to build up reserves or payments to the retiree health benefit plan, known as OPEB.

“If we do that, we are just borrowing Peter to pay Paul,” he said.

Navarro, who also chairs the council’s fiscal committee, was not immediately available for comment.