Outcome Grim But Still Uncertain

Dear Reader,
The county council unanimously voted to pick $600,000 out of Takoma Park’s pockets. However, it also agreed to hand back some or all of that money if the budget allows. Whether the budget allows that will be clear in a week. How much the city loses or gains back won’t be known for certain for two weeks.
The county executive Ike Leggett, who writes the county budget, proposed grabbing a whopping 20% of the revenues paid to municipalities. These are rebate funds – the chunk of tax money the county hands over to municipalities for duplicate services. These are services such as police, public works, etc. that the county provides – except municipalities that provide their own.
Takoma Park’s share of the 20% reduction would be $600,000. The full county council voted May 11 to approve that cut.

There is still a spark of hope, however. Some or all of the funds could be restored in the reconciliation process, scheduled for May 20th. Although the council voted for the 20% cut, they also voted to add restorations of that cut to the reconciliation list.
The reconciliation list, according to county staff legislative analyst Charles Sherer, is a list of all the amputated parts of the budget the council would LIKE to see sewn back on IF there is any money to do so. The county staff is now busy crunching the revised budget’s numbers. They will have a statement May 19 showing what, if any, funds are still available. Then the county council will go down the reconciliation list to see what they can afford to put back in the budget. This will be done behind closed doors. May 20, they will descend from the mountain top with tablets listing the quick and the dead.
On the reconciliation list are two items that would restore the municipality rebates. Each item restores half the rebate. Apparently, that way if there aren’t enough excess funds to restore the whole rebate, the council can at least restore half. But, even a $300,000 cut to Takoma Park’s budget would have a devastating effect. The result could be the loss of a department or tax raises.
Library Cuts
An informal straw vote indicated the council favored a 22% cut to the city library rebate, said Essie McGuire of the county staff. The cut will be enacted as soon as the council can gut the ordinance that sets the payment formula. A new ordinance, which is likely to be passed May 20, will allow the county executive to set the rebate to any amount he wishes.
The last Your Gilbert heard, this will mean a $6000 – 11,000 loss. This is less than initially feared, due to negotiations between city staff and the county and some clever number arranging by the city manager.
The Long Wait
County staffer McGuire cautioned that the final numbers for any of these cuts and restorations will not be known until the budget is approved and voted on May 27.

– Gilbert

About the Author

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

6 Comments on "Outcome Grim But Still Uncertain"

  1. It is long past time to start handing services the city duplicates back to the county.
    The county will not find the extra money under their pillows left by the tooth fairy.
    The vote to pillage was unanimous
    The county council members from Takoma Park decided that the city voters would not do anything about this.
    Salute their loyalty to Old Takoma.
    And what could the communards do in retaliation, vote Republican?
    November can’t come soon enough.

  2. Reuben Snipper, Councilmember Ward 5 | May 13, 2010 at 10:35 pm |

    The county is facing a huge shortfall in revenues, both from the state and various county sources of revenue. Not surprisingly, they are trying to pass some of those cuts to the next lower level of government, the cities. Unfortunately, Takoma Park has no one to pass the cuts onto except you the residents of Takoma Park. So as a Councilmember, I can tell you to expect reductions in service and increases in fees. They apply to many state, county, and city activities. While this year is bad, next year is likely to be more of the same.

  3. Anonymous | May 14, 2010 at 11:03 am |

    Actually, it’s not just the residents you’re trying to pass cuts on to, it’s also the employees. They’ll be there on Monday, and I don’t think they’ll be too happy, especially the entire recreation department some council members trying to cut.

  4. It is unfortunate that when a TP Council member decides to post a comment on this site it ends up being an amazing displays of platitudes. What Reuben just contributed was not much more than what was posted by Gilbert earlier in the year summarizing what Elrich had said to the TP City Council. And it should be noted, that almost every year the MontCo Council members at budget time go around claiming that that “year’s budget decision is incredibly difficult and that next year will be even more difficult”. It reminds of professional athletes who when asked before a game what they have to do give the generic answer “play hard, control the ball” etc…
    Don’t these Council Members realize that budgetary decisions are THE decision for which they have been elected and that it is not just a bad time to be had in May (exam time!) while they float the rest of the year? With some more focus during the rest of the year on budget issues (rather than on the relief valve of the taxpayers’ pocket), maybe these council members would not find themselves at a loss and in such dire straits when they have to vote on the budget!

  5. “Unfortunately, Takoma Park has no one to pass the cuts onto except you the residents of Takoma Park. So as a Councilmember, I can tell you to expect reductions in service and increases in fees” – These are platitudes?

  6. Wow, Gilbert! Did you really need to read that, from a Council Member no less, to figure it out?
    In addition, I am sure that if you go back to budget minutes from much better times (like when real estate appreciation was 10%/year, you would here something similar as to why it was “impossible to reduce the rate otherwise there would have to be reduction in services”.
    Context, Gilbert, context! What is happening now is only a perfect storm because for years the TP Council Members have refused to face reality!

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