Under the budget approved Thursday, the owner of a $250,000 property will see his annual tax bill increase by about $18. For an owner of a $1 million property, the bill would go up by $73. The Ride On monthly fee was increased to $45 from $40, while the biennial residential parking permit goes up $5 to $40. Short-term parking rates would increase by 25 cents an hour.
Because of the extended energy tax increase, the average household would pay about $140 more a year, while the average annual commercial bill would go up about $1,360 to $4,233.
The approval comes a day after the state added hundreds to thousands of dollars in income taxes to affluent Maryland residents, many of whom live in Montgomery County, under a package approved by state legislators during a special session called by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).
The state also shifted some teacher pension costs to counties. Because of this, Montgomery is required to pay $27 million more to the school system for fiscal 2013. The state provided offsets so that county services wouldn’t be affected, but county officials said they worry that paying for ballooning pension costs will be difficult in the future.
In January, County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) proposed his own construction financing plan with a slight cut to school funding — the first decrease in recent memory. In March, he announced an operating budget that beefed up police and fire departments and library services.
Council members said they wanted to keep much of Leggett’s spending increases because residents have been negatively affected by the austerity measures the county has taken in recent years. For instance, the council rolled back health and retirement benefits for county employees by $33 million last year, riling county union leaders. Council members also restored some of the school construction funding Leggett took out in his January construction proposal.
County legislators also wanted funding for their own initiatives. For instance, Council President Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda) pushed for a “chief innovation officer,” whose salary and benefits total $150,000. Council member George L. Leventhal (D-At Large) pushed for an employee wellness coordinator, whose salary and benefits cost $110,000.
The council approved a $2,000 one-time lump sum payment to full-time county managers and workers, but it did not approve step or cost-of-living increases. Legislators also gave $500,000 to the county’s business development corporation, a public-private partnership started last year.