I commend the Montgomery County Council for approving the employee compensation package I recommended for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. It was the right thing to do.
Over the last six years, I have taken painful actions to put the County back on a path of economic sustainability. Prior to my assuming office, County spending had increased during each of the previous four years by an average of more than 10 percent – an astounding 42 percent over four years.
For the first five years of my administration, the rate of growth in the County’s tax-supported budget was zero – even while Montgomery County’s population increased by eight percent and inflation increased by 12 percent. I eliminated 10 percent of all County positions. Employees had no cost-of-living increases for four years, no steps and increments for three years, and up to eight days of furloughs. Changes in cost sharing arrangements for health and retirement plans shifted more costs to employees.
These actions saved the County over $469 million over four years - with ongoing annual savings as a result of these measures of $156 million a year. During the past two years, most area local governments or agencies gave cost-of-living and/or steps to their employees. Montgomery County did none of this.
Our cost cutting efforts were necessary, but they called for great sacrifice from County employees. Over the past four years, the average County employee has contributed over $30,000 to help close $2.7 billion in budgetary gaps. Based on the actions already taken, each employee will continue to contribute up to $6,500 a year well into the future.
The work I and the County Council have done to put the County’s fiscal house in order – boosting reserves, cutting the workforce, reducing expenditures and the hundreds of millions of dollars in employee savings -- has given the County the room to provide some compensation increases after four lean years. I thank the Council for their action today that recognizes that employees also deserve to benefit from our County’s economic recovery.