Montgomery County Taxpayers League

The Voice of Taxpayers of Montgomery County, Maryland

Testimony By Robert Monsheimer about MCPS FY2014 Budget

MCTL Review of the Proposed Superintendents FY 2014 Budget
Robert Monsheimer, Education Chair MCTL

Good Evening, I would like to thank the Board for allowing me to speak tonight regarding the proposed FY 2014 budget. The request presented to us is 10 million above the MOE budget and will not be accepted by the Council. As a Board you ask why is a mere 10 million dollar addition causing such a problem?

A:   The current law for MOE punishes counties for exceeding the MOE by making it a
new base. This new base has to be funded each year at the possible reduction, in police,
fire, health services that do not have this onerous state mandate. What will 10 million in
other service cuts mean to those other departments?

B:   The new MOE law has potential of the State mandating local tax rates, thus decreasing
our sovereignty on fiscal prudence.

So if the County is not going to fund these extra dollars, does it mean we will not be able
to maintain our great education standards in Montgomery County?

Short Answer:  Absolutely everything planned can be made available and the 10
million is not required:

How:

A:   I have reconciled the staff additions required to handle growth and initiatives
requested. We analyzed the staff increases for this budget and they exceed the detail
requirements by 100. Wow we just saved 7.5 million dollars without impacting
services.

Mind you this still means we will increase total staffing by 253, a ratio of 1 new staff
member for each 9.2 students. Wow that is an interesting ratio.

B:   In listening to MCGEO, It is time that all employees of the county have similar copays
for doctor visits. We would assume the 2.5 million is a token of the amount of increasing
copays to $15/20 per visit in the current environment. As you know MCPS spends nearly
40 million each year if we followed MCGEO contracting rules.

Now we are saving 8.5 million.

C: Tighten up the rules for those that are eligible for full health benefits. Please ask staff
to determine how many employees work less than 15 hours per week and get the full
benefit of MCPS Health benefits. Should people that work so little get the same benefits
as employees that work the majority of the time? People like bus drivers would be
covered under these rules but occasional employees should not get the same benefits as
our truly committed employees.

Now we estimate that savings are nearly 10 million dollars:

We have observed that MCPS procurement relies heavily on continually extended
contracts: We believe by adding additional 3 to 4 specialists that another 1 to 3 million
dollars could be saved annually.

Now we are at a savings of nearly 12 million.

Two statements of the Superintendents have our members disturbed in regards to
the budget request.

1:  “This is an estimated budget. We have ongoing negotiations with our unions.”
No this budget that you are proposing is the framework for the costs to the
citizens of Montgomery County. No free pass because you have the negotiations in a
timeframe that does not allow you to properly budget. That is managements fault,
negotiate that all timelines for negotiation need to conclude by November 30th
of the preceding year and you would have solved the issue.

2: Partnership: Of the groups that are pointed out, none represent the taxpayers of
Montgomery County. We at the League have been trying for several months to meet
with the Superintendent and staff, but our request has been ignored. We see the groups
that have been your partners as the sound of one hand clapping; until you have the fiscal
hand no sound can be made.

Conclusion:

The budget presentation is a lot of work to simply state, take last year’s budget add
staff to cover the new students and facilities. The budget is 10 million over stated and
unfundable to maintain the other areas of the County budget at the operating levels we as
citizens’ desire. We are disappointed not to have a seat at the table in the budget
formation. We wait for the day that activities of the school system have transparency to
the taxpayers.