The Honorable Nancy Floreen
President, Montgomery County Council
100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, Maryland 20850
Dear Council President Floreen and Councilmembers:
The Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board (MCCAB) appreciates the opportunity to share with you our suggestions on how to address the very serious budget crisis facing our County and to re-enforce your resolve to protect our most vulnerable residents even during this budget crisis.
This is, in every sense of the term, a real budget crisis. Therefore, with great angst, we are making these very difficult, but very critical recommendations. We don’t relish any of the proposals we are making; however, we strongly believe that the alternatives are worse.
First a few words of appreciation and encouragement. We recognize that health and human services and public safety programs have suffered fewer cuts than most areas of the County government and agencies. We urge you to retain that set of priorities. We must first protect the most vulnerable among our residents.
We have one immediate suggestion and four longer term suggestions for dealing with the current budget crisis.
Short-term Recommendation #1
We recommend a permanent, tiered pay adjustment which would be set at various rates according to salary levels and be sustained for the future. This is especially important since 80% of the County’s operating budget is earmarked for personnel costs.
Looking beyond the current moment, we believe there is a long-term structural budget deficit, especially if you account for the unfunded County liabilities. We recommend an across the board validation and reclassification of every single job funded by this $4 billion dollar operating budget.
While General County Government has already done so, other County agencies who have not, especially Montgomery County Public School employees, should be required to replace the defined benefit package with a defined contribution package for all new and existing employees.
Reallocate central staff and decision making to the Regional Services Centers. We suspect that the County has reached the point of diminishing economies of size. Further, we believe the residents will be better served by decision makers living closer to them. Rather than cut the regional offices to 3 people or eliminate them altogether, we think the County would save money and improve services by reallocating people, decision making and services from the central office to the regional offices.
Commit to zero based budgeting. Zero-based budgeting requires a review of all budget items every year, rather than the current process of concentrating on new items. We believe such justification of every dollar will inevitably lead to improved fiscal efficiencies.
We thank you for the opportunity to share our suggestions with you and we wish you well in your budget deliberations.
cc: County Executive Isiah Leggett