Providing more money for schools, police and programs for youth and seniors, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) is scheduled to unveil a $4.97 billion proposed operating budget Monday.
The budget features what Leggett called a “modest” growth of 3.4 percent from the fiscal 2014 budget and will slightly lower property taxes from $1.01 per $100 of assessed value to $0.996 per $100 of assessed value, according to a copy of the proposal provided to The Gazette.
Leggett is scheduled to officially unveil the budget Monday.
It provides more than $1.5 billion in county money for Montgomery County Public Schools, $26 million more than the minimum amount required by the state. Including state and federal funding, the county’s public schools will receive $2.16 billion in the recommended operating budget.
The Montgomery County Police Department would receive $13 million more under the proposal — including 23 new officer positions and two forensic science positions — and the county’s libraries more than $37 million, a 6.7 percent increase from fiscal 2014.
The budget proposal sets aside $379.9 million in reserve funds, and $105 million to pay for obligations related to retiree health benefits.
Leggett told The Gazette on Friday that having a healthy reserve fund was especially important because of a pending court case that concerns whether counties must be required to provide a credit for county income taxes on out-of-state taxes paid to other states on certain types of corporate income.
The Maryland Court of Appeals has ruled that failure to provide a credit is unconstitutional, and the U.S. Supreme Court could take up the case.
Leggett said if the court doesn’t rule in its favor, the county could be liable for as much as $150 million in retroactive penalties, payments and other costs, as well as face about $25 million a year in lost revenue going forward.
There’s no scientific way to construct a budget, Leggett said.
You have to be able to follow a plan that has been laid out, but also flexible enough to make adjustments for unforeseen problems, he said.
It also requires allocating resources based on how effective they’ve been in the past, something that the county’s CountyStat program has helped with, he said.
The program collects data on county programs and uses them to measure effectiveness and efficiency.
Leggett often said publicly as the budget was being developed that he wouldn’t move too quickly to restore funding to county programs as Montgomery emerged from the economic downturn.
He said he tried to plan for a budget that would at least come close to matching existing funding for programs, with increases in certain areas.
Although some areas will see larger increases than others, no parts of the budget experienced significant cuts, he said.