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Press Releases - County Council

For Immediate Release: Thursday, May 16, 2024

From the Office of Council President Andrew Friedson

Montgomery County Council President Andrew Friedson made the following statement about the Fiscal Year 2025 Operating Budget and the Fiscal Year 2025-2030 Capital Improvements Program. The Council’s final vote on the capital and operating budgets for Montgomery County is scheduled for May 23. 

Below is Council President Friedson’s full statement:

The $7.1 billion operating budget before us today is a reflection of compromise, collective values, and the complex needs of our growing community. I am proud to say that this budget focuses on our core priorities: investing in education, supporting public safety, producing and preserving affordable housing, combatting climate change, protecting the most vulnerable, and jumpstarting economic development to grow our tax base.

Putting together a fiscally sound budget that meets the needs of Montgomery County’s 1.1 million residents is the ultimate balancing act. Like residents across Montgomery County who create household budgets, the Council had to make difficult choices with finite resources, especially as we sought to increase funding for public education. With an unprecedented level of community engagement throughout this deliberative process, the Council has produced a budget that meets today’s needs and makes strategic investments for Montgomery County’s future so we can strengthen our social safety net and maintain our high quality of life.

We are adding significant additional resources for Montgomery County Public Schools by funding 99.2 percent of the Board of Education’s request without raising taxes or increasing the County’s debt, while maintaining our reserve levels above 10.8 percent, and providing the necessary flexibility to respond to potential fiscal emergencies in the months ahead.

Like all budgets before us, this year brought its own set of challenges and opportunities. Faced with tough choices, we worked strategically to increase our commitment to public schools, our hardworking employees, and our nonprofit service providers.

I appreciate each of my Council colleagues for the purposeful way we conducted our work, the County Executive and his staff for their budget recommendations, and the County residents who expressed their views.

This year, we bolstered community outreach efforts to better inform our budget decisions which led to the largest turnout for public hearings in recent history. We heard from 255 residents at five public hearings, a 55 percent increase in participation from last year. We also provided simultaneous interpretation services and options for remote participation. We received hundreds more emails, calls and correspondence, and took all of it into consideration to ensure our work reflects the community's needs.


The budget the Council preliminary approves this morning adds $26.3 million more funding for public schools than what the County Executive proposed in his recommended budget. This represents a total of $157.3 million added to the school system’s operating budget above last year’s approved level, bringing the total MCPS operating budget to $3.3 billion. Moreover, less than a week ago, this Council also took action that provided an additional $20 million in the current fiscal year to support MCPS and the ongoing commitment we have made to support our educators and support staff to meet their health care needs.

While adding this increased level of public-school funding, we also continued our pledge to transparency and accountability by including specific performance metrics and reporting requirements in the MCPS budget resolution for the first time ever. To help ensure increased funding leads to improved educational outcomes, we continued our efforts to establish and grow a dedicated division within the Office of Inspector General focused specifically on MCPS oversight. With two approved positions last year and another two added to this budget, we are ensuring that education funding is utilized to serve the greatest needs in our schools. We also continue to provide the Board of Education with resources to improve their fiscal oversight and budgetary analysis and assist them in their roles as duly elected fiduciaries of one of the largest school systems in the country. 

We all share a collective commitment to supporting student needs and improving educational outcomes. Our work, of course, does not end with this budget. The Education and Culture Committee will continue its in-depth, base budget review. We also await the Office of Legislative Oversight’s report the Council requested in December to catalogue and analyze all MCPS reports to assess gaps and identify the best fiscal and budgetary practices.


Our community's quality of life relies on a thriving economy and strong workforce. I’m proud that we worked together to fully fund the contracts for our dedicated educators, public safety professionals, and County government employees.

Building on the recently approved New J.O.B.S. Initiative which represents the most significant economic development package in recent decades, we also came together to restore nearly $700,000 in recommended cuts to the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation to bring their funding level to $4.7 million. Additionally, we broadened our state and university partnerships to double down on our global leadership in biohealth innovation by adding funds to create a new biotechnology workforce training facility and continuing our multi-year commitment to support the recently established Institute for Health Computing, which is exploring how artificial intelligence, machine learning, and clinical analytics can facilitate knowledge and innovations for health and wellbeing.

Together, we stepped up to support our nonprofit partners who provide a social safety net for our most vulnerable residents and serve as key County partners and employers with inflationary increases and approximately $18 million in operating and capital grants.

We supported working families and their children with investments in early child care, including nearly $20 million in resources for the Early Care and Education Initiative, more than $13 million in Early Childhood Services, and $1 million for the Children’s Opportunity Alliance.

Public Safety

We’re continuing to strengthen public safety with major investments in our police department, fire rescue service, and first responders, including providing ongoing funding to continue the highly successful Drone as First Responder Program in Silver Spring and Wheaton and expand it to the Upcounty and Bethesda. By leveraging cutting-edge technology, we can better utilize police personnel and improve response times. We funded nearly half a million dollars for the police cadet program and increased pay to bolster recruitment efforts. At the Department’s request, we funded an additional half a million dollars to fund new tools and technologies our police department needs to effectively do their job. This budget also provides $1.3 million to grow the Nonprofit Security Grant Program to protect our faith-based and ethnic organizations facing increasing threats and hate crimes at a time when it is regrettably needed more than ever.

Sustainable Planning, Affordable Housing & Parks

As chair of the Planning, Housing and Parks Committee, I am beyond thrilled about the unprecedented level of funding for affordable housing in this budget at $168 million, including fulfilling the full $50 million commitment for the Nonprofit Preservation Fund, after years of hard work alongside the Department of Housing and Community Affairs, the Housing Opportunities Commission, and our housing providers. Additionally, the capital budget includes a significant funding increase for the Affordable Housing Acquisition and Preservation Project, including $50 million this year, and a $20 million increase in future years for the Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund.

As we focus on tackling the housing crisis, we’re also planning for a sustainable future with forward-looking transportation and climate initiatives. We provided $3.5 million for the Great Seneca Transit Network which is key to achieving our modern transportation needs and to providing Upcounty residents with long awaited public infrastructure. I’m particularly proud of the more than $19 million dedicated to helping finance clean energy projects for residents and businesses through the Montgomery County Green Bank. Following the passage of the Green Buildings Now Act, we’re seeing the clear benefits of clean energy investments. We also increased funding for our Climate Change and Vision Zero initiatives by a combined 51 percent to continue our efforts to build a cleaner, safer, more sustainable community.

Our parks and recreation spaces are among our most valuable assets for residents of all ages and abilities. Together, we continued the Council’s tradition in recent years to provide adequate funding to expand our heavily utilized trail network and ensure our Parks Department has enough funding to maintain the open spaces that are so vital to our community’s quality of life.


A budget of this scale and complexity requires focused, in-depth scrutiny and collaboration at all levels. Let me first thank my Council colleagues for their shared commitment to our residents and continued partnership throughout this budget season. We made compromises and came together to ensure that every dollar goes to its best and highest use, all while holding the line on new debt and higher taxes. This budget does not reflect each of us individually, but it does reflect all of us collectively as a body – and that’s precisely what residents elected us to do together.

To my hardworking office team – my Chief of Staff Cindy Gibson, Matt Higgins, Angela Geer, and Andrew Resnick – thank you for your unwavering support, relentless effort, and dedication. The Council President’s Office demands long hours, added responsibilities, and the ability to manage lots of moving parts. It’s an honor to work alongside such talented and dedicated public servants who go above and beyond every day and manage to do it all with compassion and care, and even a laugh and a smile.

Thank you to our Council central staff whose contributions keep this institution moving forward, keep the public engaged, and serve an instrumental and often under-appreciated role in putting this budget together. Thank you especially to Deputy Director Craig Howard who really captained this effort throughout budget deliberations, to Senior Legislative Analysts Essie McGuire and Keith Levchenko, and to Office of Legislative Oversight Director Chris Cihlar and his team. A special thank you to outgoing Executive Director Marlene Michaelson and our new Executive Director Caven West for their seamless efforts transitioning during a hectic time. There are so many committed members of this institution who make days like today possible. I wish I had enough time to acknowledge and thank each of you, but please know just how much you and your public service are appreciated.

Finally, let me express my deepest gratitude to my extraordinary personal support system – my fiancé Demi who has supported me throughout the budget process with quite a bit going on in our life together, and my wonderful parents and siblings. Everything I am able to do is thanks to you, and because of you.

Reflecting on all we’ve accomplished together in this budget and the progress we’re making on key priorities, this is a proud moment for me – and I hope – for us as a body. As we meet this moment and prepare to meet the challenging moments ahead, I’m optimistic that we will work together to tackle the structural challenges we face, ensure we grow an economy that can generate the revenues needed to sustain our quality of life and support for vulnerable residents, and build a strong foundation to keep our County moving forward.

This budget is an important step toward setting us up for long-term success and economic mobility to ensure all our residents have access to high-performing schools, outstanding public services, and the high quality of life that they rightfully expect and deserve.

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Release ID: 24-188
Media Contact: Cindy Gibson 240-620-8571
Categories: Andrew Friedson