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.
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.