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Press Releases - County Council

Council President Sidney Katz's Statement about the Fiscal Year 2021 Operating Budget

For Immediate Release: Thursday, May 21, 2020

ROCKVILLE, Md., May 21, 2020—Montgomery County Council President Sidney Katz made the following statement about the Fiscal Year 2021 Operating Budget and the Fiscal Year 2021-2026 Capital Improvements Program.

The Montgomery County fiscal year 2021 budget will be entered into the history books as both unique and challenging – maybe uniquely challenging is a better way to sum it up. The Council has a legal obligation to pass a balanced budget by June 1 each year. Therefore, we will conclude our budget deliberations to reach this timeline; however, we are not nearly finished. The $5.8 billion operating budget and the $4.4 billion capital budget that we unanimously approved  provides stability, while we await a clearer picture of expenses and revenues that will emerge during the summer and fall.

The global health pandemic has reshaped the way we function as a government and as a society. It has taken extraordinary measures at every level of government to respond to the public health and financial crisis caused by Covid-19. This crisis was unexpected, and when it gripped our nation, it grasped us too.

We could not have predicted the extent to which the virus has affected our community. County revenues are down and the needs of our residents are greater than ever before. Unemployment is at record high levels, and businesses are shuttered. Moreover, many of our residents are struggling to meet their basic needs.

In our community, we are fortunate to be able to provide financial assistance to so many. So far, we have provided nearly $50 million to assist with health and human services, medical care, food security and local small business needs. The County has the ability to do this because we have, for so long, included strong reserves as part of our budgeting process.

Our approach to this budget was unlike any other. We had a singular goal – continuity of service. In Montgomery County, we are proud of the services and amenities that we provide, and each year we try to improve and expand on what we can do. But not this year, not in this budget. Like households across our community, we had to limit our spending and control budget growth. I am actually pleased that we were able to meet our goal to provide a continuity of services for our residents because when we started our deliberations this seemed like an illusive target.

For the first time, we held our budget discussions as a committee of the whole. We conducted our budget work without the benefit of committee recommendations, and we did all this via ZOOM. "You’re on mute." "Can you hear me?" "Please wave or raise your hand." These were the phrases heard frequently during this year's budget meetings. We also continued to provide ways for the public to participate in our budget deliberations through virtual public hearings, prerecorded videos, written submissions and social media.

The budget before us now is not the budget that I nor anyone else had hoped for. It is not a budget of plenty, but it is a budget we can be proud of, and it reflects who we are and what is important to us. As we set out to do, we funded our departments, so that they can continue to provide the services most necessary with a workforce that can remain employed. We also provided a continuity of services budget that meets Maintenance of Effort levels for Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery College. At this time of historic uncertainty, education is the one constant for our students and their families, and it is an essential component of our collective future.

As has been said, we hope that our fiscal constraints will ease, but we do not know when or to what extent that may happen. As I began my remarks, I said that we are not nearly finished. I know that this budget is the very best we can do right now, and I look forward to beginning the process of re-examining every aspect of it – just as soon as we are able.

I want to thank all of our residents, our unbelievable staff and all of my colleagues for working together to accomplish all that we did.

Release ID: 20-229
Media Contact: Sonya Healy 240-777-7926 , Juan Jovel 240-777-7931