Montgomery County Taxpayers League

The Voice of Taxpayers of Montgomery County, Maryland

Police

Questions for the of meeting of November 16, 2016

Free and open to the public

Topic: “What Factors will Shape the FY 2018 County Budget?”

Speaker: Steve Farber, Council Administrator, Montgomery County Council

Questions sent to the speakers in advance of the MCTL meeting of November 16, 2016

1.  Will the results of the national elections affect the projections for FY 2018 revenue and spending for Montgomery County?

2.  What do you project to be the revenue source mix for FY 2018 among property taxes, income taxes, grants and contract, fees and other?  Are there policy options in place for increasing the less volatile property tax share?  Is it likely that there will be another Charter busting property tax increase?   How could other revenue sources be boosted to match Fairfax County’s approach?

3.  Given that the Wayne case decision has been incorporated into the projections for FY 2018, will ITOC credit refunds, faster reassessments for property improvements, and collections of overpayments made to municipalities affect the revenue picture positively?  By how much?

4.  Other than spending increases that are likely to exceed the CPI such as negotiated salaries and benefits for MCPS and county employees, and debt service, what other spending increases are likely?

5.  With the FY 2017 funding of MCPS of $90 million over the Maintenance of Effort requirement, by how much will this increase the baseline of per pupil costs for FY 2018?  Given MCPS cost projections for FY 2018, is it likely that funding for MCPS will exceed the MoE limit once again?

6.  What are some of the bills passed at the last legislative session in Annapolis that will affect the Montgomery County budget in FY 2018 –  both positively and adversely?

 

Booing and heckling against transparency in collective bargaining

President Joan Fidler of the Taxpayers League testified on July 12, 2016, before the County Council in support of Bill 24-16, Collective Bargaining – Impasse Procedures – Amendments.  She was booed and heckled by union workers during her statement in the last paragraph of her testimony where she stated “In the last three years most county employees have had pay raises of 21% with another 4.5% this year”.

For those who do not follow the minutiae of pay raise percentages, here is the source on Page 9.

http://montgomerycountymd.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=10488&meta_id=92904

Specifically “…..For merit system County Government employees not at their maximum salary (nearly three-fourths of the total), the compound pay increases negotiated by the Executive and approved by the Council for these three years” (FY 2014 – 2016) “total 20.6 percent for general government employees and still more for public safety employees eligible for make-up service increments.”

In the video of the hearing, President Fidler’s testimony begins at minute 16 and lasts for 4 minutes.

“Montgomery County stands up to the police union, and the results are now clear”

From the Washington Post of November 12, 2014:

“Over the five years that ended in 2009, 91 officers in Montgomery were awarded disability pensions, which are tax free. That amounted to more than 60 percent of all retirees from the police force.  By comparison, just three officers in Fairfax County received such a benefit over the same span.  In the past two years, following the council’s reform, just four of more than 80 retiring officers made disability claims.”

Here is our take:  We agree with the Post editorial, “The End of a Police Scam”.  In fact, the Taxpayers League testified in favor of reform in 2012.

Police Promise Council “Chaos” If Demands Not Met

Pay up, or else:

“Now, not to comply with the law would be a very dangerous and short-sighted approach by Mr. Leggett because in the years when we have lost we have always honored the arbitrator’s award,” [Walter] Bader [chief negotiator and past president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 35], said.

The union could “run to the County Council and turn the process into chaos,” he said.

No special interest left behind:

Gino Renne, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1994/Municipal and County Government Employees Organization, said he also planned to lobby the County Council to reverse Leggett’s proposals.

“It all goes to council. We’ll fight it out there,” Renne said.

Read the full article at the Gazette »

Post: “Please, don’t make us cheat!”

The Post’s editorial board takes on special interests:

The schemes that allowed officers to score guns on the taxpayers’ dime are finished, and presumably, so is the county’s laxity when it comes to tuition assistance programs for employees. What seems alive and well, however, is the sense of entitlement among public employee unions in Montgomery County, which have been coddled by politicians for too long.

Read the full editorial at the Washington Post »

MoCo IG: “Waste and Abuse” in Gun Program

The County’s Investigator General released a report uncovering $600,000 in no-bid contracts for police “training”:

Montgomery County awarded more than $600,000 in no-bid payments to nine companies that had ties to county police officers and were part of a controversial tuition-assistance program, Montgomery’s inspector general said in a report released Monday….Inspector General Thomas J. Dagley concluded that the close ties among the companies, employees and students enrolled in the classes have ‘and will continue to expose county taxpayer dollars to waste and abuse until more comprehensive guidelines and monitoring are put in place.’

Read the full story and Council reactions at the Washington Post »

Gun Coupons

The county improperly subsidized the purchase of private firearms:

The weapons classes were set up by a firm with ties to a Montgomery police officer. Fellow officers enrolled in the classes, and their tuition was paid by the county’s tuition assistance program. A suit filed by the county Wednesday accused the firm and officer who helped run it of fraud. Officials allege that the classes were designed with a special enticement to get officers to enroll: County-subsidized guns they could take home for personal use. The tuition program is not supposed to cover books or other materials, including guns.

Read the full article at the Washington Post »