County Executive’s Proposed Budget Calls for Increase in Spending Guidelines

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Included in County Executive Marc Elrich’s proposed $6.3 billion operating budget is a request to increase the spending affordability guidelines set forth by the Montgomery Council by about $108 million.

If council does not increase those guidelines, it would result in “substantial reductions in service levels to County residents, including reductions in health and human service safety net programs, climate change initiatives, including funding for the Green Bank, services to seniors, affordable housing programs, and public safety programs,” Elrich wrote in a letter to Council President Gabe Albornoz on March 15.

Elrich told MyMCM on March 18 that he considered the guidelines set by the county council to be “too low” now that the economy is looking up, and he is confident that revenues will increase. The state is also working with a budget that includes increased revenues, he said.

“I wouldn’t have expected the council to know that” when they set the spending affordability guidelines, he said. Including an additional $108 million in funding deals with “all real money that is being generated out of our economy now,” Elrich said.

During his weekly meeting with members of the press, Albornoz said he understand that the economy currently looks better than it did when the guidelines were first set. However, he said, “There is some concern. We absolutely want to make sure we spend resources that we aren’t going to need later.”

The county needs to approve an operating budget that is balanced between helping residents in need with being fiscally responsible,” Albornoz noted.

The economy’s uptick “just puts us in a better position that we thought” the county would be in a couple of years ago, he said.

Albornoz said he is particularly happy that Elrich’s proposed budget includes $5.5 million to help refugees settling here and additional funds to deal with mental health problems, including $1 million for the 988 National Suicide Prevention telephone line and $800,00 to help EveryMind in Rockville to be able to handle more crisis prevention and intervention calls.

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