County Council Meets on April 30
The Montgomery County Council will meet on April 30 to discuss the compensation and benefits proposed for employees of county government and County agencies in the Fiscal Year 2014 operating budget. The worksession, and expected action that will follow the discussion, is part of the Council’s examination of the recommended budget presented by County Executive Isiah Leggett.
The Council has been reviewing the Executive’s recommended budget as it works toward adopting the FY14 County operating budget in late May. The budget will go into effect on July 1.
The Council will meet in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The general session, three public hearings scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. and a meeting of the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee beginning at 2 p.m. will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcast also will be streamed through the County website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov. The session will be rebroadcast on Friday, May 3, beginning at 9 p.m.
On April 25, the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee, which is chaired by Council President Nancy Navarro and includes Councilmembers Valerie Ervin and Hans Riemer, unanimously recommended approval of the FY14 pay changes recommended by the County Executive and included in his agreement with the organizations that represent County employees.
County employees have not received general wage adjustments (COLAs) for four years or service increments (step increases) for three years; were required to take furloughs of three to eight days in FY11; and have experienced increased cost-sharing for health and retirement benefits starting in FY12.
County Executive Leggett’s collective bargaining agreements include COLAs and step increases for eligible employees in each of the next two years. The increases in FY14 would be 6.75 percent for eligible County Government employees, 7.35 percent for eligible members of the Fraternal Order of Police, and 9.75 percent for eligible County career firefighters. The agreements call for similar increases in FY15, but those increases will not be before the Council until next year.
One of the public hearings scheduled for Tuesday afternoon will focus on the increased fuel-energy tax rates that have been in place since they were recommended by County Executive Leggett while the County was impacted by financial hardships of the Great Recession.
In his FY11 recommended budget, the County Executive proposed an increase in the tax rates of 100 percent over a two-year period to raise an estimated $133 million. Ultimately, the Council increased the rates to raise 85 percent of the Executive’s recommendation, raising an estimated $114 million. In FY13, the Executive recommended not carrying out his proposal to sunset the tax rate increases and proposed extending the rate increases indefinitely. The Council instead reduced the FY10-11 increase by 10 percent, or $11.4 million.
On April 9, Council President Navarro and Councilmember Phil Andrews each introduced resolutions that would reduce the fuel-energy tax rates in FY14. The Council president’s proposal, which is a placeholder to allow further discussion by the Council, would reduce the FY10-11 increase by an additional 5 percent. Councilmember Andrews’ proposal would reduce the FY10-11 increase by an additional 10 percent.
A joint meeting of the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee and its Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 1, will address the tax rates for the next fiscal year.
During the morning session, the Council is expected to take action on Executive Regulation 17-12AM, which would implement Bill 34-12. The Council enacted the bill on April 16.
Bill 34-12 updated the County’s Water Quality Protection Charge. Bill 34-12 broadened the charge to include most property owners; provided credits to property owners who have on-site or off-site stormwater management facilities or implement certain best practices; approved a hardship exemption for residential property owners and qualifying non-profits; provided a supplemental grant program to offset the cost to eligible homeowners associations for assessments associated with private roads; and phased in any increased charges over three years.
Also during the morning session, the Council will honor the Churchill High School ice hockey team that recently won its second Maryland Student Hockey League 2A championship over the past three seasons