Schools, Safety Are Priorities; Homeowners to Get Breaks Through $613 Tax Credit; No New Taxes
Credit Means 80 Percent of Owner-Occupied Principal Residences Will Pay Lower County Property Tax Than in FY07
ROCKVILLE, Md., May 17, 2007—The Montgomery County Council today unanimously agreed on a $4.1 billion operating budget for Fiscal Year 2008, which begins July 1. Due to a property tax credit included as part of the budget, about 80 percent of County homeowners will pay less in County property taxes this year than they paid last year.
The Council is scheduled to formally adopt the FY08 operating and capital budgets on Thursday, May 24. The operating budget is up 7.1 percent from the current year.
The budget emphasizes the Council’s priority focus on education, public safety and affordable housing. Health and Human Services, public transportation, improved infrastructure and technology also received strong support.
The budget includes no new taxes. It does include a $613 property tax credit for the County’s 243,000 owner-occupied principal residences, a program which the Council originated in 1998.
The property tax credit is $392 more than last year’s $221 credit. The credit means that County property taxes on owner-occupied principal residences assessed in FY08 for up to $475,200—80 percent of the total number of such residences—will be lower this year than this fiscal year.
In addition, the County “circuit breaker” tax credit will provide more targeted property tax relief for households with incomes of $64,000 or less—tax relief that is projected to average $685 per residence for eligible recipients. And under a law the Council passed last year, eligible homeowners who are at least 70 years old will receive an added 25 percent circuit breaker credit.
The total operating budget is $4.1 billion, an increase of $277 million (7.1 percent) from the FY07 approved budget.
“This is the first budget for a new Council and a new County Executive. It is a challenging time for local governments and Montgomery County is no exception,” said Council President Marilyn Praisner. “Our revenues are not growing at their previous pace and the State continues to have unresolved fiscal issues. We received a very good budget from the County Executive. The Council agrees that it is time to focus on basic services such as education, public safety and human services for those at risk. The Council’s budget does just that while also improving services in public transportation, the environment and existing infrastructure. And we accomplished this while providing very significant tax relief to our homeowners.”
Funding for Montgomery County Public Schools will be $1.981 billion (an increase of 7.0 percent), representing 99.64 percent of the Board of Education’s request. This is the 13th time in the past 14 years that the Council has funded at least 99 percent of the budget requested by the Board of Education.
Funding for Montgomery College will be $238.2 million, an increase of $19.9 million (9.1 percent) that represents 99.1 percent of the College’s request. The Council added $2.5 million to open the Goldenrod Building adjacent to the Germantown campus of Montgomery College. The building is used for classes and offices and will house the Office of Economic Development’s Germantown business incubator. Funds also were added for 10 new fulltime faculty members and staff support.
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission was strongly supported by the Council, which restored $3.4 million of the funds cut from its budget request. This will enable residents to see improvements in County parks and in land use planning.
The new budget continues the Council’s commitment to public safety by providing for the hiring of 30 new police patrol officers. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue will have 70 new fulltime positions, including 24 starting in June 2008, to expand four-person staffing on fire engines. The Council also added $178,000 for a half-year EMS flex unit.
The Council addressed several transportation needs while also helping the environment.
The Council requested that most new additions to the County vehicle fleet be either hybrids or fuel-efficient. In addition, the Council requested that the Department of Public Works and Transportation use biodiesel or other environmentally sensitive fuel to the maximum extent possible. The Council will fund the purchase of 31 small diesel buses, completing the three-year program to replace this portion of the Ride On fleet, and will replace 27 regular size Ride On buses. After these purchases, 38 percent of the fleet will be fueled by compressed natural gas, hybrid diesel/electricity or ‘clean’ diesel by January 2009 (compared to 27 percent of the current fleet).
The need for improved mental health care was aided by $253,130 that will enable the Mobile Crisis Team to provide 24 hours a day coverage seven days per week.
The budget sets aside $31.9 million to address the Governmental Standards Accounting Board’s (GASB) new disclosure standard for the full cost of retiree health benefits. The Council agreed in April to phase in this cost over five years.
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Highlights of the Fiscal Year 2008 Montgomery County Operating Budget:
- To comply with the County Charter limit on property tax revenue, every owner-occupied principal residence will receive a $613 property tax credit. Residences assessed up to $475,200—about 80 percent of the total—will receive lower County property tax bills in FY08 than in FY07 (8.2 percent lower for a house assessed for $275,000 in FY08).
- The County “circuit breaker” homeowners’ tax credit will provide significant property tax relief for homeowners of all ages with household incomes of $64,000 or less (relief that is likely to average $685 per house for eligible homeowners).
- Under a law the Council passed last year, eligible homeowners who are at least 70 years old will receive an added 25 percent circuit breaker credit.
- There are no new taxes.
- The average tax rate (there are 21 property tax rates in the County) of 90.3 cents per $100 assessed value remains unchanged.
- $1.981 billion for Montgomery County Public Schools (an increase of 7.0 percent over the FY07 adopted budget), representing 99.64 percent of the Board of Education’s request.
- $238.2 million for Montgomery College (an increase of 9.1 percent), representing 99.1 percent of the college’s request.
- $3.57 million to lease, purchase, move and rehabilitate relocatable classrooms needed for the 2007-08 school year. These funds include the moving of 30 relocatable classrooms and replacement of nine.
- $400,000 in a community grant for the Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy (MCAEL), formerly the Montgomery Coalition for Adult Literacy and English for Speakers of Other Languages (MCALESOL). The program promotes English literacy.
- $245,000 to support a community-based pre-kindergarten pilot program that would support 40 children for a half-year, beginning in January.
- $500,000 to the FY07-12 Capital Improvements Program that would add Takoma Park Elementary School as a site for the Child Care in Schools project.
- $40,000 for transportation for children in foster care.
- $1.5 million for the new Cafritz Foundation Art Center of Montgomery College in Silver Spring. The building will house the School of Art and Design.
- $2.5 million to open the Goldenrod Building adjacent to the Germantown campus of Montgomery College. The building is used for classes and offices and will house the Office of Economic Development’s Germantown business incubator.
- $450,000 for Montgomery College for the additional of 10 fulltime faculty members.
- $450,000 for Montgomery College staff support.
- Full funding for all MCPS CIP requests including:
- Classroom additions at East Silver Spring and Takoma Park elementary schools ($27.9 million total).
- Poolesville High School laboratory upgrades and addition ($7.75 million).
- Additional $3.5 million for the Galway Elementary School modernization.
- $558,000 for improvements at Wootton High School for its Academy of Information and Technology program.
- $96,000 in matching dollars for stadium lighting at Clarksburg High School
- - Approved $1.2 million in FY07 for MCPS to bring nearly 300 stormwater management facilities up to current standards.
- $218.9 million for the Police Department (an increase of 7.3 percent over the approved FY07 budget).
- $189.3 million for the Fire and Rescue Service (an increase of 6.4 percent over FY07).
- $1.8 million to add 30 new police patrol officers.
- Add 70 new fulltime positions and one parttime position to the Fire and Rescue Service.
- $373,190 for six officers assigned to the centralized Gang Unit. These positions were grant-funded in FY07 and will be grant funded for about half of the FY08 year.
- $110,010 for five new crossing guards, including four to address pedestrian safety issues at the Silver Spring Transit Center while it is under construction.
- $30,000 to continue funding for a Community Outreach Coordinator for the International Corridor C-SAFE program.
- $127,000 to add two assistant state’s attorneys to prosecute crimes committed by identified gang members.
- $4.2 million for 22 new positions for Fire Safety Code Enforcement.
- $450,000 for four-person staffing on four fire engines starting in June 2008.
- $178,000 for a half-year EMS flex unit for the Fire and Rescue Service.
- $495,000 to implement the first negotiated agreement with volunteer firefighters including a nominal fee to volunteers.
- Will buy 31 small diesel buses, completing the three-year program to replace this portion of the Ride On fleet.
- Will replace 27 regular size Ride On buses. After these purchases, 38 percent of the fleet will be fueled by compressed natural gas, hybrid diesel/electricity or ‘clean’ diesel by January 2009 (compared to 27 percent of the current fleet).
- $150,000 to increase the value of coupon books to $120 per month (from the current $112) for the Call-‘N’-Ride transportation subsidy program for low income seniors (age 67 and over) and low-income individuals with disabilities. To qualify, an individual must earn $25,000 or less. Program goes in effect in January 2008.
- $552,000 to allow seniors and individuals with disabilities to ride free on Ride On and Metrobus (in Montgomery County) at all times (starting in January 2008).
- $1 million additional (for a total of $2 million) to improve access to bus stops.
- $300,000 additional for resurfacing of neighborhood streets.
- $162,000 additional for street tree maintenance that would provide for emergency trimming needs.
- $80,000 to double the rate of installation of pedestrian countdown signals at County maintained intersections. An increase of this rate for each of the next five years would install countdown signals at every County intersection.
- Establish uniform hours for parking fees across all four County parking districts (Bethesda, Montgomery Hills, Silver Spring and Wheaton) and the North Bethesda Transportation Management District from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday for lots (9 a.m. to 10 p.m. for on-street spaces) and from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday in garages (except in Silver Spring garages 60 and 61).
- $12 million to the CIP for Chapman Avenue Extended, which would complete the road from White Flint to the Twinbrook Metro Station.
- $9 million to the CIP for bikeway improvements on MacArthur Boulevard, widening the road by two to three feet.
- $1 million to the CIP for street tree preservation (proactively trimming trees in neighborhoods).
- $400,000 to the CIP for new entrance to southern access point of the Silver Spring Metro Station.
- $772,000 additional to the CIP for further enhancements on construction of Glenmont Metro Station Parking Garage. This will allow for 1,200 cars to park on the west side of Georgia Avenue.
- $802,440 for the Economic Development Fund that loans funds to small businesses.
- 1,850,000 to match State funds for the Birchmere Music Hall project in Silver Spring.
- $700,000 for Phase II of a three-year commitment of $2.1 million for development of the Adventist HealthCare medical facility in Long Branch.
- $600,000 for the Germantown Innovation Center, including $250,000 for the Germantown Incubator.
- $325,000 to CIP for the Life Sciences and Technology Centers project to develop land use plans for the Germantown Life Sciences Park and the East County Center for Science and Technology.
- $80,000 for the Wheaton Business Incubator.
- $50,000 to place 40 youth from the Germantown, Silver Spring and Wheaton areas into summer employment. The target population is low and moderate income youth, ages 14-21.
- $30.0 million for Housing Initiative Fund.
- $5.7 million for the Housing Opportunities Commission (an increase of $244,580 over the FY07 adopted budget).
- $974,000 for six contracts for funding under the Building Neighborhoods to Call Home effort.
- $45,000 for the Housing Opportunities Commission for an intake worker in Kensington.
- $65,600 for testers of housing discrimination.
- $157,190 to add two new housing code enforcement inspectors as a part of the Preserving Existing Communities Initiative.
Health and Human Services
Aging and Disability Services
- $8.1 million, including an increase of $664,000, to pay supplements to 26 nonprofit organizations that serve adults with developmental disabilities. The County payments supplement what the providers receive from the State.
- $5.6 million for assessment and case management services for frail seniors and / or adults with disabilities, including:
- $237,000 for six new full-time positions to serve 130 additional clients.
- $105,000 to fund an Adult Day Care pilot program that will enable families/caregivers to enroll elderly individuals in a community-based adult day care program.
- $5.1 million for In-Home Aide services (an increase of $335,000) to provide services to homebound individuals who need assistance with the basic activities of daily living and frail or disabled adults who need assistance with chore activities.
Public Health Services
- $11.4 million for the Montgomery Cares Program (an increase of 14.7 percent over the FY07 approved budget) to provide primary and preventive health care to low-income, uninsured residents. With this appropriation, the Council adopted a special provision that links program spending in Montgomery Cares to preparation of an accountability and planning report that will be submitted to the Council this fall.
- $18.1 million for School Health Services (an increase of $1.8 million) to implement a negotiated increase in hours and days for Community Health Nurses and School Health Room Aides.
- $5.6 million for Women’s Health Services (an increase of $1.9 million) for providing prenatal, labor and delivery and maternity dental services to low-income, uninsured women.
- $350,000 in increased funds (24 percent) to provide emergency and basic dental services to low-income residents.
Children, Youth and Family Services
- $5.16 million for Linkages to Learning, including an increase of $830,000 (19 percent) to continue Linkages at all of its current sites.
- $19.2 million for Child Welfare Services.
- $11.5 million for Child Care Subsidies.
- More than $2 million to fund a range of activities associated with the Executive’s County-wide Youth Violence and Gang Prevention Initiative, including a new Wellness Center at Northwood High School, wrap-around services for youth involved in or at-risk of gang involvement in the Germantown, Wheaton, and Silver Spring areas; and a new position dedicated to outreach to girls involved in or at-risk of involvement in gang activity.
Behavioral Health and Crisis Services
- $253,130 to expand the County’s Mobile Crisis Team to 24 hours a day, seven days per week coverage. The Mobile Crisis Team is available to respond to crisis situations, in conjunction with Montgomery County Police, for any County resident in need of immediate intervention.
- More than $10 million in shelter and housing stabilization services to provide temporary shelter to homeless families, emergency shelter beds for homeless adults and intake and assessment for households who are experiencing a housing-related emergency.
- $3.27 million for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (an increase of nearly $250,000) to provide comprehensive mental health services to children, youth, and their families.
- $20,000 to provide acupuncture treatment within the Outpatient Addiction Services Program. The research literature on acupuncture treatment indicates that it helps keep clients in addiction treatment programs for longer periods of time.
Administration and Support
$2.2 million for Special Needs Housing (an increase of $1.2 million) to provide housing subsidies and service coordination for special needs populations and people who are homeless.
- $40.5 million for the Department of Public Libraries (an increase of $2.1 million over the FY07 approved budget).
- $93,440 to expand Sunday library hours by one hour per Sunday at each of the eight branches with Sunday service. This will increase hours overall by about 260 hours.
- $228,000 to purchase a variety of new materials for general users, new Americans, seniors, teens and students, bringing materials budget to a total of $6.3 million.
- $62,020 for additional staff for the new Germantown and Rockville libraries.
Arts and Humanities
- $5.4 million for the Arts and Humanities Council.
- $500,000 for the American Film Institute in Silver Spring.
- $600,000 to help retire facility debt for the Imagination Stage.
- $100,000 for Heritage Tourism Alliance that helps the County use its heritage to encourage tourism while protecting and promoting its cultural, historical and natural resources.
- $10,000 for maintenance of public art.
- Recommended that beginning in FY08, DPWT should replace all administrative sedans, 4x4 vehicles and SUVs with hybrid vehicles.
- $7.5 million in the CIP for development of a new landfill gas-to-energy facility
- Changed how townhouses will be categorized for purposes of the leaf vacuuming charge, moving them from the more expensive single-family category to the less expensive multi-family category.
- Continued the expanded hours (seven days a week, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.) for the household hazardous waste disposal program at the Shady Grove Transfer Station. Three years ago, the hours were limited to four days a week.
- $141,350 in the Water Quality Protection Fund for the phase in of structural maintenance of MCPS’ stormwater management facilities by DEP.
Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission
- $133 million for the budget of M-NCPPC, an increase of $14.1 million over the FY07 adopted budget (11.8 percent)
- Supported the reorganization into separate Parks and Planning Departments and reorganization within the Department of Parks to improve management.
- $251,375 to continue the Park Aide (ranger) program. During the summer of 2006, this program helped increase compliance with ballfield permits, performed park checked and reduced citizen complaints.
- Supported accelerating the design for the Germantown Town Center Urban Park so the design of the park can occur at the same time as the design of Locbury Drive, which will cross the park. Design will begin in FY08.
- Supported the acceleration of master plans and provided increased funding for forest conservation implementation (plan review and inspection), zoning ordinance reform and the initiation of a new Geographic Information System (GIS) strategic plan.
- Supported major new initiatives for the Department of Parks including
- Several programs to enhance and protect park trees (an increase of more than $500,000)
- Increases in funding to address non-native invasive species
- Increases in funding for archaeological and historic management programs to protect and allow programming of park historic resources, such as the Underground Railroad and Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
- Increased maintenance of natural and hard surface trails.
- $100,000 to cover half of the cost for senior adult mini-trips (an increase of $19,000 over FY07).
- $13,000 for the therapeutic recreation program at the Inwood House.
- $320,000 to enhance the five Neighborhood Centers (Clara Barton, Good Hope, Plum Gar, Ross Boddy and Scotland) with minor facility improvements and the replacement of interior furniture and equipment.
- $328,490 to provide full-year funding for the Paint Branch Sports Academy.
- $328,490 to provide full-year funding for the Springbrook Sports Academy.
- $257,890 to provide full-year funding for the Wheaton Sports Academy.
- $105,970 to add an UpCounty Sports Academy beginning at mid-year. The academy would be established at an UpCounty high school and operate three days per week.
- $16,000 for Tobytown Community Center after-school and family recreational activities.
Other Notable Items
- $1.6 million for a total of 52 grants to nonprofit organizations to support a variety of programs and services. This includes $234,060 for adult ESOL grants to CASA of Maryland, Centro Familia, the Chinese Cultural and Community Service Center (CCACC), the Community Ministries of Rockville’s Latino Outreach Center, the Literacy Council of Montgomery County, the Spanish Catholic Center and the Spanish Education Development (SED) Center.
- $12,060 to fund approximately 27 scholarships for middle school girls to attend an information technology camp at Montgomery College during the summer.
- Approved 6.5 percent average water and sewer rate increase for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission. Rejected requested increase of $4 per quarter in WSSC Ready to Serve Charge (account maintenance fee), pending further review of ways to address WSSC’s infrastructure maintenance needs.
- The Water Quality Protection Charge rate was maintained at the FY07 level of $25.23.
- $60,000 to the CIP for economic and urban design studies in the West Howard Avenue area of Kensington.
- $25,000 to the CIP for a study of pedestrian linkages to the Clarksburg historic area.
- $87,800 for two permanent poll work recruiters for the Board of Elections.
- $50,000 to the County Cable Fund to increase closed caption in Spanish to 133 hours.
- $50,000 for community programming for youth on County Cable Montgomery (CCM).
Council Community Grants for FY08
Adult ESOL Grants
CASA of MD 17,040
Centro Familia 30,000
Chinese Cultural and Community Service Center, Inc. (CCACC) 25,000
Community Ministries of Rockville/Latino Outreach Program 60,000
Literacy Council of Montgomery County 2,020
Spanish Catholic Center 35,000
Spanish Education Development (SED) Center 50,000
African Immigrant & Refugee Foundation - Comprehensive Mental health and Empowerment Program for African families 20,000
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. - tutoring and mentoring to at risk middle and high school students 10,000
Alzheimer's Association- provide education and training on dementia 15,000
Animal Welfare League of Montgomery County - equipment for new no-kill animal shelter 800
Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center - provide legal services to low-income, Asians residents with limited English proficiency 4,000
Bethesda Cares, Inc. - mental health services for homeless clients 15,000
Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington - Project Learn academic enrichment 15,000
CASA of Maryland, Inc.- operate a Workers Center in Shady Grove 50,000
CASA of Maryland, Inc. - social services program 29,500
Center for Adoption Support and Education - research project on impact of therapeutic adoption program on adopted and foster children and parents 50,000
Centro Familia - training, business development and home visiting for LEP immigrant family child care providers 70,000
Child Center and Adult Services - mental health services at Community Clinic 19,510
Class Acts Arts, Inc.- program for juvenile offenders at Detention and Correction facilities 60,000
Coalition Homes, Inc. - staff to identify additional purchase opportunities to serve people exiting homelessness 82,300
Community Ministry of Montgomery County - case management services at transitional housing program 40,000
Conflict Resolution Center of Montgomery County - bi-lingual coordinator for mediation services 15,000
Educational Video in Spanish, Inc. - fund production of a TV program that provides Latino families information on their rights as well as health, education, legal and social services 20,000
Episcopal Senior Ministries - care management services for low income seniors 10,000
First African Methodist Episcopal Church - grocery delivery to low-income families in 124 corridor and Town Crest neighborhood 5,000
Friends of Wells/Robertson House, Inc. - computers, flooring, and appliances for transitional housing 6,950
Galway Elementary PTA, Inc. - multicultural multi language forums to help parents navigate school system 8,890
Germantown Oktoberfest - rental equipment and supplies for festival 10,000
Graffiti Abatement Partners, Inc. - Vine installation project along METRO walls entering Silver Spring 17,700
Habitat for Humanity - Spanish language education, Vista/Americorps volunteers housing, and IT support 25,000
Hebrew Home of Greater Washington - support surface self-adjusting mattresses for frail elderly patients 100,000
Home Care Partners, Inc.- home care aide services for frail elderly and individuals with disabilities in Gaithersburg 10,000
Housing Opportunities Community Partners, Inc. - tutoring and anti-truancy program 46,000
Identity, Inc. - reentry program for Latino youth offenders at Correctional Facility 55,870
Impact Silver Spring - start up funding for Youth Media Arts Center 10,000
Interages, Inc. - intergenerational prevention mentoring 10,000
Jewish Foundation for Group Homes - health and respite care-support for adults with developmental disabilities and/or chronic mental illness 20,000
Kids Enjoy Exercise Now - recreational opportunities for children, teens, and young adults with developmental and physical disabilities 17,030
Latin American Youth Center-Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers - Tanglewood Anti-Gang Shield program for Latino/Hispanic youth 15,000
Latino Economic Development Corporation - small business outreach and assistance 55,000
Liberty's Promise - Civics and Citizenship and Opportunities Plus internship program for immigrant youth 10,000
Long Branch Athletic Association - recreation and sports programs for youth in Long Branch 61,800
Manna Food Center Smart Sacks - weekend food backpack to Title One students 45,790
Maryland Vietnamese Mutual Association - Parent Enrichment Program 50,000
Metropolitan Center for Assault Prevention - MetroCap violence prevention program 75,000
Metropolitan Community Development Corporation - summer enrichment programs for low-income and African immigrant children ages 3-16 65,000
Montgomery County Bar Foundation - Pro Bono Program/civil legal services to low-income residents 47,560
Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless - staff infrastructure 15,000
Montgomery Village Foundation - senior citizen drop in center, teen center and late night programs, and health fair 10,000
National Alliance on Mental Illness - Latino outreach mental health program 14,270
National Multiple Sclerosis Society - respite program 40,000
People's Community Baptist Church - social and recreational services for active and medically disabled senior adults 10,000
Somali American Community Association, Inc. - rent public facilities for Mobile Learning Center 6,000
Spanish Catholic Center - preconstruction apprentice program 30,000
Suburban Hospital Foundation - screening equipment for obesity, vision impairment, and lung related illnesses 8,670
Teen Connection of Takoma, Inc. - free and low-cost reproductive health services 100,000
Thor Teams, Inc. - tutoring and mentoring middle school students in Damascus 30,000
Top Banana Home Delivered Groceries, Inc. - home delivered groceries to older adults 36,740