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Executive Transmits Latest Budget Impacts, Projected Cuts to County Employees

On December 2, County Executive Ike Leggett shared the latest budget updates and the possible impacts on County departments in the following letter to  all County Employees. Also see The Washington Post article.

Dear Fellow County Employee:

I write to you today about the latest updates in our County’s fiscal challenges.

Together, over the past few years, we have done much in reducing County spending in response to the most serious downturn since the Great Depression — while, at the same time, doing our best to protect vital County services and programs. We have closed budget gaps of an unprecedented $2.2 billion over the last four years.

County government tax-supported spending this year is 7 percent less than last year. None of us are getting raises – whether cost-of-living or steps. And all of us, including myself, are taking furloughs.

I wish I could say to you that our difficulties are easing, but this is not the case. I know we will see that day but it has not yet arrived.

State income tax revenues, paid to the County, are coming in tens of millions below our already downwardly adjusted projections.

Due to repeal of the County’s ambulance reimbursement law in the November election, we have an immediate $14 million shortfall in our Fire & Rescue budget this year – and will lose $170 million over the next ten years in premiums already paid that insurance companies will now pocket.

The State of Maryland is facing a $1.6 billion deficit. The realignment in Congress may dampen our regional economy. And President Obama’s just-announced two-year freeze on federal salaries will also adversely affect County tax revenues.

We estimate that the resulting budget shortfall in this current fiscal year will be about $100 million. Our current estimate of next year’s gap is an additional $250 million – for a total shortfall of $350 million to be filled between the remainder of this fiscal year and the next.

In October, to help close this year’s gap, I sent a $14 million reduction in County government spending to the Council. That is still pending. Later today I will forward to the Council an additional $22 million in needed reductions, including $19 million from the Montgomery County Public Schools and reductions from Montgomery College and Park & Planning.

Today, I forwarded to my Department Directors my first guidance for next year’s budget, Fiscal Year 12, which begins on July 1, 2011. This is the first step in determining the FY12 operating budget I will announce next March.

I have asked all Public Safety departments, Health & Human Services, and Transit to propose reductions totaling 5 percent from this year’s budget.

I have asked all non-Public Safety departments to propose reductions totaling 15 percent.

These target reductions are starting points for discussions that may be adjusted as conditions change or as policy decisions are made and refined.

Given all the cuts we already have made over the past four years, these reductions will be very painful. There is no more “low-hanging fruit.” There will be things County government will do differently. And, yes, there may be things we do not do at all.

As we move forward, I will continue to communicate with you on the budget and other issues you care about.

As always, I welcome your feedback and suggestions at ocemail@montgomerycountymd.gov.  Last year I found a number of employee suggestions worth pursuing and many were implemented as part of the adopted FY 2011 budget.

There are hard choices ahead. Please know that I appreciate all you have done and all you will do to help us weather these difficult times and emerge a stronger County.

Sincerely,

Ike Leggett
County Executive

CATEGORIES: County Executive
POSTED AT: Monday, December 06, 2010 | 8:00:00 AM |
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Last edited: 11/8/2010