Montgomery County Taxpayers League

The Voice of Taxpayers of Montgomery County, Maryland
Montgomery County Taxpayers League

The Voice of Taxpayers of Montgomery County, Maryland

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Next Meeting: Monday, April 9, 2018 – 7:30 – 9:30 pm

 Montgomery County Taxpayers League

 in partnership with

 Montgomery County Civic Federation

 

Monday, April 9, 2018  –  7:30 – 9:30 pm

Lobby Level Auditorium, Executive Office Building

101 Monroe Street, Rockville, MD 20850
PLEASE NOTE NEW TIME AND VENUE

Free and open to the public

                                                                       

Topic:   “ The Taxpayers’ Take on the FY 2019 Montgomery County Budget”
 
Speaker:  Alexandre Espinosa, Director, Department of Finance,  Montgomery County Government
 
The meeting will start with a presentation of the taxpayers’ view of the budget followed by a Q and A session with the Director, Department of Finance, Montgomery County.  Please bring your questions to the meeting. 

 

“The Top 20 Highest-Paid Montgomery County Employees in 2017”

From Bethesda Beat March 16, 2018:

“Twelve of the top 20 highest-paid Montgomery County government employees in 2017 were firefighters…. In 2017, there were 33 firefighters among the 50 employees who made more than $200,000….Two firefighters—captains Raymond Sanchez and Patrick Stanton—have been among the top 15 highest paid county employees since 2014. In those four years, Stanton collected $1.014 million in salary and overtime pay, while Sanchez collected $975,970….Just six women were among the 50 highest-paid employees in the county…County Executive Ike Leggett received $192,800 in gross pay last year, making him the 66th highest-paid employee in the county. ”

 

 

State Report Blast Dept. of Assessment and Taxation

A just-released 49-page fiscal compliance audit report on the operations of the State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) has found the state is foregoing millions in property tax revenue because of inefficient assessments.

“According to DAT’s records, only 275,461 of the 676,066 residential real properties (that is, 41 percent) that were to be reassessed during the 2015 assessment year received an inspection of any kind….DAT estimated that the use of oblique aerial imaging for real property assessments across the State should result in increasing the assessable base statewide by as much as $1.4 billion.”

Maryland is one of only two states in which property assessments are done by the state; in all others it is done by the local jurisdiction.

Improved Properties Are Not Being Reassessed Properly

Unimproved property taxpayers are subsidizing more expensive, improved property owners.  How big is the under-assessment problem?  A 2017 report estimates that Montgomery County’s residential property assessment base would be $2.7 to $3.6 billion higher, resulting in an additional $140M in annual property tax revenue.

Read the report by Gordie Brenne and Carol Placek

 

 

County Debt Is Serious Problem

From The Seventh State of February 21, 2018:bethesdamagazine.com:

“Over the last eight years, the county’s debt has been growing by more than 5 times the rate of inflation….Relative to the size of the population, the debt has been rising too.  When we compared the county’s total debt levels to population estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, we found that total debt per capita has grown from $1,370 in 1997 to $3,768 in 2017….As for debt service, it has risen from $140 million in FY97 to $408 million in FY18.  If debt service was a county agency, it would be the largest agency in county government other than MCPS.” 

 

Accountability in Education Act: MCTL View

 

Testimony sent to the Senate Education, Health and Environment Affairs Committee

SB 302 – Accountability in Education Act of 2018

February 8, 2018

The Montgomery County Taxpayers League supports SB 302 – but with major reservations. The premise of the bill makes eminent good sense – the establishment of an Investigator General (IG) at the state level. No such investigatory body exists at present and oversight suffers. However, there are some problems with the bill.

  1. We do not see the need – nor the expense – of setting up a whole new commission with all its trappings to select the IG and to whom the IG will report. We have a State Board of Education that could very well fill that role. The Educational Monitoring Unit could be housed either in the Maryland State Department of Education or could be situated within the State Board with the investigative and analytical functions listed in the bill.
  1. Other than sub poena powers, we are not sure as to why many of the other functions are not currently being performed by the MSDE or through the oversight of the State Board.
  1. How will the functions of this new entity comport with those of the various boards of education in the state who currently perform many of the same functions. Will IG decisions over-ride personnel decisions protected by local collective bargaining agreements? Will corrective actions mandated by the IG be funded by the state?
  1. Will it benefit the Investigator General to support the establishment of inspectors general in the larger school districts? Should local jurisdictions elect to do so, will the state fund the establishment of these positions?

It appears to us that the premise of the bill is worthwhile; the creation of yet another free-floating commission is not. The tightening of oversight is worthwhile; the overreach in some of the functions is not. And lastly, though the bill does not intimate it, the establishment of inspectors general in some school systems would strengthen local oversight – and lighten the work load of the proposed Investigator General.

Joan Fidler, President

Montgomery County Taxpayers League

 

‘Montgomery County Bracing for Long-Term Revenue Decline’

From bethesdamagazine.com:

“Montgomery County is revising its six-year revenue forecasts down by more than $400 million as income tax revenue lags behind previous projections…[County Executive Ike] Leggett noted that during the recession the county passed a savings plan of about $970 million in one year. But he said cutting spending at that rate isn’t possible anymore, given how much had to be cut from the operating budget during the years of economic decline from 2008 to 2011.”

Read the full story.

Questions for meeting of November 15, 2017

Questions for the meeting of November 15, 2017

Topic:  “Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation:  Bringing Jobs to  Montgomery County?”

Speaker: David Petr,  President and CEO, Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation

Free and open to the public

The following questions sent to the speaker in advance of the meeting:

1. The Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) has produced several publicity campaigns, including “Moco365,” “We are Montgomery County,” and “Think Moco.”  What has been the largest concrete accomplishment of these campaigns?  What particular businesses and quantifiable economic activity have they brought to the county?

2. Your previous experience includes:  President and CEO of the Central Florida Development Council and Executive Director of the Winter Haven Economic Development Council.  What was your greatest success in these positions?  What parallels do you see between these regions and Montgomery County that have informed your work here?

3. Despite a $1,127,000 boost in the FY 2017 budget, the MCEDC remains less well-funded than its Fairfax and Prince George’s county counterparts, which receive $7.5 million and $9 million, respectively.  Do you believe this puts Montgomery County at a great disadvantage relative to these neighboring counties?  Are there plans to expand the MCEDC budget to achieve parity and what successes would MCEDC achieve?

4. To what extent do county and state laws and regulations hamper the mission of the MCEDC?  What changes or new legislation will help you achieve your goals?

5. Montgomery County boasts many other economic development groups, including countywide and municipal chambers of commerce, Rockville Economic Development, Inc., and the Latino Economic Development Center.  How has your organization collaborated with these existing institutions?

6. A focus of the MCEDC appears to be biotechnology: the website highlights two biotech companies, Medimmune and Qiagen.  Is biotech the only reliable investment for Montgomery County taxpayers?  What about other key industries–agribusiness, cyber security, financial services, tourism, IT, and healthcare–and what would attract them to Montgomery County?

Next meeting:  January 17, 2018

Comments on Planning Board presentation of Oct. 25, 2017

MCTL Member Max Bronstein had these comments about the Oct. 25 presentation by Casey Anders, Cir, Montgomery County Planning Board:

There is an emphasis on walkable & bikeable communities & that’s fine for those who choose to live in that type of dense setting, but the majority of the county’s 1.1 million residents have not chosen that lifestyle & are not choosing that lifestyle going forward.  Also, if biking is applied to commuting, it’s less than 1% of commuters who travel on a bicycle.  Also, try hauling 6 grocery bags on a bike after shopping.  Biking & walking for exercise & recreation, is fine. Just recall that seniors are the largest population growth segment & many can walk only short distances & usually don’t bike at all.”

Mr. Bronstein’s full comments are here