Montgomery County Council
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:
- An additional $1.4 million for more ball fields. All told, ball field funding nearly doubles to $6 million. Lighting 7 fields, renovations, and reconfigurations will mean space for 500 more games and practices every week;
- $38,000 more for the expansion of Montgomery Babies Program -- which insures that all babies born in Montgomery County get a healthy start -- to Montgomery General Hospital, with added efforts at Adventist Hospital;
- $250,000 to expand the successful Sharp Street Program, a cooperative project between the County and communities based in local churches and synagogues to engage and turn around troubled youth suspended from school;
- $526,000 to keep open the Silver Spring Children Mental Health Clinic, which the County Executive proposed privatizing;
- $38,520 to fund a Police Department juvenile offender caseworker;
- $100,310 for more attorneys in the State’s Attorney’s office to handle family violence and child welfare cases;
- $25,000 in additional funding for teen alcohol prevention programs;
- $15,000 for the African-American Festival of Academic Excellence;
- $60,200 to continue Montgomery County Public Schools service to the Noyes Juvenile Detention Center for six months;
- $20,000 for job training for at-risk youth with Montgomery Youth Works;
- $105,000 for expansion of the Healthy Families program, to reduce the waiting list for services for at-risk, first-time parents;
- $212,000 for day care subsidies for needy working parents;
- $59,000 for the Rosemary Hills Youth Program in Silver Spring, working with at-risk youth through intensive mentoring and community safety programs; and
- $178,500 for educational and recreational activities for children of parents living in Housing Opportunities Commission housing.
Budget initiatives by the Council include:
- $775,000 to bolster economic development in the County -- $500,000 to create a one-stop "Montgomery Works" career center to match employees with needed skills and with employers, $200,000 for a public-private Montgomery Business Alliance partnership to attract companies to the County, and $75,000 for the Montgomery Work/Life Alliance to promote family-friendly policies and programs on the job.
- An additional $1 million to the Montgomery Housing Initiative to preserve affordable housing stock and rehabilitate deteriorated multi-family properties in targeted areas.
- Construction of a new indoor Germantown Swim Center to be completed in 2002, complementing the Council’s approval of the Soccerplex and other public facilities in South Germantown Park. Also, accelerating by two years the completion of the Martin Luther King Swim Center Phase II Outdoor Pool, and accelerating by one year the completion of the Damascus Community Recreation Center.
- Accelerating by one year the widening of Shady Grove Road to six lanes
- between Briardale Drive and Muncaster Mill and adding a sidewalk along its entire length. Also, accelerating by one year the safety improvements on Muncaster Mill Road and the widening of Briggs Chaney Road east of US 29.
- $50,000 for design and site selection for a new Silver Spring Library to accompany Council approval for $100,000 in planning funds for a new Rockville library, adding four hours of Sunday service (560 hours) at four community libraries, and expanding service at the Poolesville Library, and
- $175,000 for a "Super Fare Share" program in the Bethesda area to encourage employers and their employees to utilize mass transit. Also, $250,000 for expanded late-night bus service.
- $75,000 for Casa de Maryland for housing, employment and training programs, $19,500 for Consejo Latino, $85,000 for Proyecto de Salud to deliver health care to uninsured adults, $50,000 in matching funds for Mobile Medical Care, $20,000 for the League of Korean Americans health fair, $20,000 for the Korean American Association language program;
- $50,000 for Food & Friends’ home-delivered meals and food delivery for people with AIDS;
- $45,000 for a volunteer director for the Senior Interfaith Resource Center and $75,000 in additional funds for the "Dentures for Senior Citizens: program, $10,000 for Hospice Caring for training of volunteers;
- $7.4 million to air condition all remaining Montgomery County schools by Spring 2000 and all holding schools by September 2000.
Highlights of the budget as a whole include:
- $1,004,460,200 for the Montgomery County Schools, 48.4 percent of the County’s aggregate operating budget, an increase of 6.3 percent over Fiscal Year 99. This represents 99.5 percent of the School Board’s request.
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.
- Montgomery College will receive $109,338,720, a 13 percent increase over Fiscal Year 99.
- $ 258,700,000 for Public Safety, an increase in the aggregate operating budget of 6.1 percent over Fiscal 99. $283,860 in funding for a new Police sub-station in Montgomery Village/Gaithersburg, including full funding for the training of ECC personnel key to opening the facility. Funds are also included to begin a major initiative to clear old warrants and improve service of new warrants. Sandy Spring fire station #4 would be accelerated by two years. $283,370 is allocated for the relocation of the Silver Spring CBD Police Satellite Station, due to Silver Spring redevelopment.
- $12 million in planning and design funds for a performance center to be built adjacent to Strathmore Hall.
- $1.5 million to fund 22 additional child welfare workers in the Department of Health and Human Service, a major Council priority;
- $300,000 for restriping roads to increase lane capacity and intersection improvements at Crabbs Branch at Needwood Road, Montgomery Village Avenue and Christopher and Midcounty Highway, and Great Seneca Highway at Sam Eig and Muddy Branch Road.
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