Montgomery County facing $100 million budget deficit

Montgomery County is one of the wealthiest counties in the entire country, yet lawmakers say they’re facing a nearly $100 million budget shortfall. The news first appeared in Bethesda Magazine.

The news report says Montgomery County could be facing the stunning shortfall for fiscal year 2021 — lower than projected property and income tax generated revenue combined with lower than projected wage growth are reportedly to blame.

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FOX 5 reached out Thursday and Friday to Montgomery County’s Department of Finance and Office of Management and Budget for a response about the shortfall. There was no response at the time of this publication.

FOX 5 also reached out to Montgomery County Public Schools. MCPS's spending and declining revenue could also reportedly be to blame for the massive budget shortfall.

The overall sentiment online appears to center around the question: How is the county facing such a significant shortfall and who is responsible for the oversight?

Councilmember Hans Riemer says the projected fiscal year 2021 revenue growth is zero, which has reportedly never taken place, aside from when the country was in a recession. He went on to blame the massive $100 million shortfall on a “weakening commercial tax base,” in an interview with FOX 5’s Tisha Lewis.

Riemer calls it a challenge. The solution? Riemer says there needs to be more economic development in the county to create jobs and fill up vacant office space.  All this surfacing during the Montgomery County Council’s mid-year briefing on county revenues.  

Councilmember Andrew Friedson tells FOX 5 the county is not attracting enough new workers and people who want to live in Montgomery County and county leaders need to figure out why.

Even so, everyone is not buying it.

“It's a surprise. I thought the economy is good, employment is high and I wonder who is doing the budgeting and spending and did not take care of the overall budget. So we need to find people to be accountable for the shortfall./ They're attributing it to declining tax revenue,” said Tihnong Hou, a Potomac resident.

Montgomery County is among the wealthiest communities nationwide with a median income of about $98,000. The average income nationwide is reportedly $55,000.

The alarming shortfall is reportedly the consequence of a poor projection of revenue.  

FOX 5’s Tisha Lewis reports the county must close that gap, meaning the budget passed in April or May must be balanced.