The news is good – and bad. As they say on social network sites, “it’s complicated.” The city lost $300,000 in revenue, but it didn’t lose $600,0000.
The Montgomery County Council wrestled the county budget to the ground May 20, agreeing to a final version. The council went through a “reconciliation list,” a list of items struck from the budget that they hoped to restore – if there was available revenue to cover it.
By straw vote, the council voted to restore half of the cuts made to municipal rebates. So instead of a 20% cut, it is a 10% cut; $300,000 instead of $600,000.
Though the county council only cast straw votes on the reconciliation items, it is “pretty much” a done deal, according to Suzanne Ludlow, Deputy City Manager. The official vote next week is expected to be the same.
So, Mayor Bruce Williams’ objection that the cuts were disproportionate was not acted upon. The Mayor appealed to the council to separate the city”s police rebate from the 20% reduction, because it would cut the police budget 25%, far more than the 3.9% county police cut.
Ms Ludlow said that the councilmembers responded sympathetically to the mayor’s request. County council staff member Neil Greenberger confirmed this. Both said the council considered putting a police-budget provision on the reconciliation list. But, said Ludlow, they decided not to add it because it would add a third option for municipal cuts. The fear was that in the mix of cost-conscious reconciliation bargaining, the council would pick only that third option – with worse consequences for all the municipalities than those of the option that did pass.
Now Takoma Park city manager Barbara Matthews finally knows what revenue the city has to work with in next’s year’s budget, and she can revise the one she wrote weeks ago. That budget accounted for only a 5% county cut – which resulted in 8 layoffs. The revised budget will have to account for the additional 10% cut. City staff, council, and citizens are bracing for more drastic cuts and/or tax raises.