Montgomery County Council

News Release

May 20, 1999

"Children First Initiative", $18 million for class size reductions,
tax cuts are highlights...

County Council Approves $2.077 Billion Millenium Budget
for the Year 2000

"Balanced approach" yields doubling of money for ballfields, more library hours, support for healthy babies & working parents, better efforts to attract & retain businesses, efforts to relieve traffic congestion, …

The Montgomery County Council today presented a bold road map for the first year of the next century, unanimously approving, by a 9-0 vote, an aggregate operating budget of $2.077 billion.

The budget, which is about $2.6 million less than that recommended by the County Executive, reduces class size, strengthens economic development initiatives, enhances efforts to alleviate traffic congestion, boosts mass transit and doubles spending on ball fields – as well as reducing County income and property taxes and eliminating the tax on wireless telephones.

"This budget reflects our values," said Council President Isiah Leggett. "This Council said we would put children first. We’ve done just that with our ‘Children First Initiative’ and class size reductions

"We want to do what we can to keep our strong economy growing and match working people with the jobs of tomorrow. We’re working on that. We want people to spend less time getting where they are going and more time with their families. That’s why we’re promoting mass transit and improving our roads and intersections, while still preserving the green spaces we all cherish.

"We’ve done all this while providing tax relief, spending less than the County Executive proposed, and boosting our reserves by $12.9 million. This balanced approach has yielded a budget that all Montgomery County residents can get behind."

Funding for the Council’s "Children First Initiative" totals $3,214,130 in new funding over and above that recommended by the County Executive. Changes in policy and programs within already recommended and existing programs mean even more "child-friendly" improvements. And the Council has identified mid-range and long-range next steps to carry on the initiative.

Among the specifically Council-initiated "Children First Initiative" highlights for Fiscal Year 2000 are:

Budget initiatives by the Council include:

Highlights of the budget as a whole include:

This includes nearly $ 18 million to accelerate the elementary school reading initiative in grades 1 and 2 in classes limited to 15 students, the math initiative to place a maximum limit of 20 students in all Algebra 1 classes in grade 9, and $1.9 million to hire 49 additional teachers to eliminate the 2.6 percent of oversized elementary classes.

Funding is included for additions at Eastern Middle School, Magruder High School, Wootton High School were funded, as was a new school gymnasium at Burnt Mills Elementary and a new Northwest Elementary School #6.

The Council budget also includes $18.5 million in tax cuts for Montgomery County citizens, including reductions in the County income and property taxes and elimination of the tax on wireless telephones.

In addition to the agreement on the aggregate operating budget, the Council is approving amendments to the Fiscal Year 1999-2004 Capital Improvements Program (CIP). The new Council expenditures of more than $100 million – or 5 percent – over the CIP approved last May, an amount within the capital budget spending affordability guidelines. Three-quarters of the expenditures will be paid for by County funds and the remaining quarter by the state and other sources.

Patrick Lacefield, (301) 217-7939