Half A Loaf

Dear Readers,
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.

– 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.

2 Comments on "Half A Loaf"

  1. Mary Jane | May 27, 2010 at 9:20 am |

    Hello. You made fun of me in article about Feb 16 city council meeting. You stated words to the effect that I, was at a loss for words when I made my brief speech in favor of estabishing a dog park in Takoma Park. I don’t know if you were riduculing my, perhaps, too emotional speech or my pro-dog park stance.
    In my defense, I came to that meeting (and sat through almost 4 hours of it) because my city councilperson told me that dog parks (for which I’ve worked hard for in vain) would be discussed. No one told me that meeting was only open to discussion by council people and Mayor. If I had known, I wouldn’t have wasted my time waiting until almost 11:30 pm to, perhaps, make a fool of myself.

  2. Ridiculing? No.
    We reported your statements and their tone, because they showed what an emotional issue the dog park is, and they highlighted the frustration felt by the original petitioners who wanted Spring Park to be the location, only to see other locations being discussed in favor.
    We did not report on the bit where you tried to enter the work session discussion as it did not pertain to the issue. That was awkward on all sides and we can well imagine it was embarrassing for you. By the way, many others have showed up at work sessions expecting to make comments and have been caught short when told it is not allowed. Usually the council blusters a bit, then lets the citizen make their comment.
    These scenes might be avoided if the citizen comment rules, especially for work sessions, were more prominent – on the council agenda web site, for example, or on the agendas themselves.
    It was confusing because that Feb. 16 meeting combined Ward 6 Night, a special session, and a work session – so up until the work session the council asked for citizen comment on each item. The transition to work session was barely noted.

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