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Leggett proposes deep cuts for Montgomery

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By Michael Laris
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 15, 2010; 11:00 AM

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) proposed a $4.3 billion budget Monday morning that cuts total government spending for the first time in more than 40 years.

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The proposed budget pain comes amid a drop-off in revenue due to the recession, but also reflects spending decisions made by officials over many years in one of the nation's wealthiest counties.

It calls for cuts across government operations and gives schools $137 million less than required under state rules. The county is seeking to change those rules or get an exemption from state officials.

Leggett also proposed an energy tax increase that would cost the average household about $3 per month and raise about $50 million, county officials said. He also called for an ambulance fee that has been rejected by the County Council, which makes final budget decisions.

There would be deep cuts in libraries and other services.

To help close a gap that had reached into the hundreds of millions of dollars, Leggett also proposed giving no pay increase to county employees this year. His decision came despite the fact that a county labor arbitrator earlier this month said he must give police employees a raise.

Leggett proposed cutting more than 200 filled government positions and requiring 10 days of furloughs for non-public-safety employees.

County officials also surprised council members by announcing that they would use more than $100 million from the county's rainy day fund to help the county get through the current fiscal year.

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