Montgomery Co. Executive recommends '10 cent' property tax increase
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. - Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich unveiled his FY 2024 $6.8 billion Operating Budget on Wednesday, recommending a "10-cent increase" to the county’s property tax rate. The revenue would all go toward fully funding Montgomery County’s Public Schools.
Elrich says the 10-cent increase raises a little over $220 million.
Last year, the Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent unveiled a $3.2 billion budget for the school system. If approved, this would the school system’s largest budget, ever.
MCPS makes up about half of the county’s budget. The county executive’s total proposed operating budget is an overall 7.7% increase from last year. Read the full operating budget proposed here.
School officials and the county executive say the historic budget toward MCPS would address teacher retention, address the increase special education enrollment and as-well-as student performance. Reports have shown how the school system was hit hard by the pandemic – this includes staffing shortages and struggling student test scores, especially in math.
"We are not funding the most precious thing we have. We want to sell our school system to the world as a reason to be here. We want to sell our school system to companies – we want them to come here and know that this is a school system that you can count on. If we don’t’ produce results that people can count on, people aren’t going to come here," said Elrich.
A Montgomery County spokesperson explained that with the current county property tax rate at .9915, proposing a .10 increase to that rate, would mean someone with a home assessed at $500,000 could be paying $500 more.
Erich argues that Montgomery County currently pays less per student than other areas, such as Howard County. He also argued Montgomery County has lower taxes than Northern Virginia and D.C.
Online, D.C shows a tax rate of $0.85 per $100 in assessed value for residential or real property and a higher or $1.65 per $100, for commercial and industrial real property, including hotels and motels.
The operating budget also includes around $707 million for public safety. The budget makes room for the $20,000 hiring bonuses to help recruit new police officers.
Elrich also noted the budget will address fire, health and transportation needs as-well-as keep some assistance originally provided in the pandemic through federal government funding.
"These are the budget pressures and they’re real. We have high inflation and it’s not going away and the cost increases for county services are real, utilities, fuel and contract increases – the federal funding – the federal government is walking away from COVID as if there’s no lingering effects of COVID. You can drive down Rockville Pike and still see empty small businesses. You can go into restaurants with reduced hours and reduced staff. The needs are still real and they’re still there and so this budget acknowledges that," the county executive said.
The county’s union leaders met after and said they just got the full operating budget. They’ll be reviewing it in coming days and will get back to FOX 5 on where they feel the budget falls short.
What they did say now, is that there are dire needs that must be addressed if the county truly cares about education and public safety.
"I don’t think the average resident understands the looming public safety threat that exists in this county day in and day out," said UFCW LOCAL 1994 president, Gino Renne.
"Our response times have increased by minutes, 911 call takers being down, working extra shifts. Patrol officers are coming in minimum staffing," said FOP Lodge 35 president, Lee Holland.
"If the per-pupil has dropped since 2008 or 2010, then that essentially means the county isn’t making the investment in closing the achievement gap," said Pia Morrison, SCIU Local 500’s president.
Next, the Montgomery County Council will hold public hearings on the operating budget.
Those hearings are scheduled for April 11th and the 13th at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Those wanting to testify at the public hearings in-person or virtually, can sign-up on the Council page or call (240) 777-7803.