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Press Releases - County Council

Council President Navarro's statement on FY20 Operating Budget

For Immediate Release: Thursday, May 16, 2019

ROCKVILLE, Md., May 16, 2019—Montgomery County Council President Nancy Navarro made the following statement today after the Council reached preliminary agreement on the County’s Fiscal Year 2020 Operating Budget and amendments to the Fiscal Year 2019-2024 Capital Improvements Program. The budget is scheduled to be formally approved by the Council on May 23.  

The complete text of Council President Navarro’s remarks:  

I am proud to say that the $5.8 billion operating budget that I bring before you today turns our talk into action by providing strategic investments that will assist community members, enhance our quality of life and meet the complex needs of our dynamic County. For me, this is a proud moment, for this budget brings together my priorities and my work on education, economic development and workforce development with a focus on equity, fiscal prudence and sustainability. This budget says we are a people-friendly and a business-friendly government, and we care about our employees. 

This year we listened carefully to concerns from community members and their views have informed our budget decisions. The Council heard from more than 150 residents who testified in English, Spanish and French at five public hearings. We received phone calls, read hundreds of emails and correspondence, monitored social media for feedback and met individually and as a team with residents and community leaders because we care, and we wanted this budget to reflect our community’s input. 

I want to thank my Council colleagues for their dedication and hard work throughout this budget process. Compromise is never easy, but we did it. We came together around core priorities established in my proposals such as: providing $2.995 billion to fully fund both the Board of Education’s request and Montgomery College; earmarking $7 million in new funding for one of my top priorities, the  expansion of early care and education for approximately 600 children; protecting our safety net services by providing essential funding for our nonprofit service providers; including $1.85 million for the developmental disabilities supplement; and providing additional funds to support small and mid-size arts and humanities organizations; providing $1 million in additional resources to expand the Kids Ride Free program; and funding salary increases for our outstanding public safety and County government employees in a manner that is fair and sustainable.  

As chair of the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee, I am pleased to say that the 2020 budget holds the line on taxes and increases our reserves to the targeted 10 percent as mandated in our fiscal plan. The Council also provided $128.3 million in additional resources for Other Postemployment Benefits (OPEB). The County has been fortunate to retain its triple-A bond rating since 1973, which is longer than any other county in the U.S., and we believe these actions will help us retain this critical rating. This Council also is committed to working with the County Executive on his plans to right-size the government. 

Kudos also to our delegation in Annapolis who worked tirelessly to bring back our fair share of state dollars that enabled us to address many of our critical budget issues. Thanks to your industry, I was able to work with the leadership of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), the County Executive and my colleagues to develop a successful plan to fully fund MCPS. 

Throughout this budget process, we had to innovate, collaborate and be proactive and transparent in getting the appropriate data and information for our decision making. I want to thank our staff for working with me on reforming the budget reconciliation process; we were able to conclude that work in record time this year. We will continue that reform process with the community grants, and I look forward to doing that, working collaboratively and respectfully with my colleagues. 

There are several critical players in the budget process.  First and foremost is my team. I want to express my gratitude to Roland Ikheloa, Bertha Cerzosimo, Mayra Cruz-Solis, Benjamin Price and Craig Wilson for their outstanding work.  The Council President’s Office works many weekend, early-morning and late-night hours that often go unnoticed. While the work we do is extremely rewarding, it requires a high level of commitment and dedication. I see the effort each of you put into your jobs each day, and I value and respect each of you and your contributions.   

We appreciate our Council staffers because they are essential to our decision making and are deeply committed to serving the public. I want to thank the Council’s central staff led by Executive Director Marlene Michaelson, Deputy Director Glenn Orlin and all their staffers as well as the Director of the Office of Legislative Oversight Chris Cihlar and his team. I am grateful for the work of Public Information Officer Sonya Healy and her awesome team. In the 21st century, in the age of the Internet, communication is key; recognizing that, I ensured that this budget included additional dollars for our communications team to help meet our communications and outreach needs. I also want to recognize the Clerk of the Council Megan Limarzi for working closely with my office to strategically plan the work of the Council and for keeping us on task throughout the budget process. A big shout-out to our 6th floor administrative assistants Angela Matarese and Nancy Riccardi who have bravely managed the traffic of appointments and phone calls during this budget process.

I salute County Executive Elrich and his staff. His proposed budget provided a good starting point for our budget work and more importantly, we are ushering in a new era of collaboration between the executive and legislative branches of government. I appreciate Marc’s willingness to work with us as a team. 

Finally, narrative and context are important. I am proud of our work on economic development and workforce development.  On this dais, we have signaled that we will take a hard look at our economic development and workforce development strategies to make our County more business friendly. The data shows that we are making progress on the economic front; however, we can do better. 

Our unemployment rate when I started at the Council back in 2009 was 5.3 percent. Today our County’s rate is lower than both the state and national unemployment rate at 3.4 percent. Even as our County has changed, the economic results show clearly that the engines of our robust economy are driven by the hard work of our diverse community. There is plenty to celebrate in who we are. We must continue to build a society that respects equity, fosters inclusion and respect for all and sees our diversity as an asset on all levels. 

At the end of the day, a budget isn’t just about dollars and cents. A budget reflects the values of a community.  I am proud to say that the fiscal year 2020 budget lights the flame for a bright fiscal future that will benefit Montgomery County and its residents in a manner that is fair and equitable for all.  

 # # # Release ID: 19-172
Media Contact: Sonya Healy 240-777-7926 , Juan Jovel 240-777-7931