Archive for May 2012
On May 12, 2012, Steve Farber, Council Staff Director, sent a memo to the County Council outlining how the county's FY2013 budget would be affected by the actions of the special session of the state legislature
"the County must add $27,227,553 to the MCPS budget. …
"…the Executive recommends this FY13 budget adjustment, including the estimated "offsets" to cover the cost. The offsets include $20,706,000 in additional FY 13 income tax revenue and $6,658,375 in additional FY13 recordation tax revenue from transactions involving indemnity deeds of trust. …As the Executive notes…while the offsets may be adequate in FY13, they will not keep up with the growing burden of the pension cost shift in future years. This fact, combined with the State's radical changes to the MOE law, could create serious fiscal challenges for the County."
Read the complete memo.
Gov. O'Malley's gas tax proposal as the answer to Maryland's transportation requires some explanation. Gas-tax revenue is slated for the transportation trust fund; at least that is what we taxpayers are led to believe. Had this occurred in the past, many transportation projects would not have been left to languish. Why? Because Gov. O'Malley and his predecessors have raided the transportation fund to cover shortfalls in the general fund. In FY10, the governor plundered $ 370 million from the fund. Over the last several years the transportation fund has been robbed of $1.1 billion. Will the proposed $613 million increase in gas-tax revenue be diverted once again and will taxpayers be deceived anew?
From the March 2012 newsletter of Council Member Nancy Floreen:
Stop the Shift
State budget efforts are underway, and we in Montgomery County are very concerned about some elements of the Governor's budget. In particular, the plan to some of the costs of shift teacher pensions to counties would have a serious impact on our ability to provide programs and services. The Montgomery County Council issued a statement opposing the shift. If you want to help, contact your State legislators. Here's the full text of the statement:
Maryland's counties and school systems face a serious problem in Annapolis right now. Governor O'Malley has proposed shifting half the cost of teacher and other pensions from the state to the counties. The County Council, County Executive Ike Leggett, and Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), as well as our employee organizations and our counterparts throughout the state, strongly oppose this shift. As Board of Education President Shirley Brandman said on Feb. 14, the shift "will have an immediate negative impact on the important services that our local governments provide."
For Montgomery County, the proposed pension shift would cost $47 million in Fiscal Year 2013 and $315 million over the next five years. The measures proposed to help counties pay the cost are inadequate and may not be enacted in any event.
How much is $47 million? It pays for the jobs of nearly 500 teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other vital County personnel. It is more than the County's general fund budgets for housing, transportation, and environmental protection combined. Our entire budget for libraries is less than $30 million.
The recessionary County budgets of the past three years required painful cuts that have seriously affected our residents and employees alike. For the coming year we face a further budget gap of $135 million and more hard decisions. If we now have to absorb another large burden from the state, there will be real damage to all our vital services – our schools, college, police, fire and rescue, safety net, libraries, parks, housing, transportation, recreation, and many others.
We understand that the state too must balance its budget and faces hard choices. But it is the state that sets the basic structure of pension benefits. In 2006 the state raised pension benefits by 29 percent, retroactive to 1998, but failed to provide sufficient funding. In fact, the state's financial support for the pension fund has fallen short for many years. Counties should not be asked to assume financial responsibility for costs not of their making. We have cut services to the bone, and we have reached our limit on taxes.
Elected officials and concerned organizations throughout the state, including the Maryland Association of Counties, the school community, and employee organizations, have joined together to convey this message to the Governor and the General Assembly. The coalition's web address is www.stoptheshiftmd.com. There you can learn how you can make a difference. The General Assembly will make its decision on the pension shift soon, probably by mid-March. The stakes for all our County residents are very high.
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From the Washington Examiner of February 14, 2012:
"Montgomery County spends 20 percent more on county health department salaries than neighboring counties, but residents are not nearly as healthy as the residents in those counties, a new study shows.
"Per capita spending on county health care is nearly double the state average, the report by the Montgomery County Taxpayers League also reveals…"