A record $964.6 million budget focusing on children, the poor and the disadvantaged was proposed yesterday by Montgomery County Executive Charles W. Gilchrist.
Those familiar with Gilchrist said this budget reveals his personal priorities more than any other in his six years as county executive. Overall, the budget would cost the county 8.5 percent more than last year's. A booming county economy and growing population, however, means the property tax bill of the average resident would increase 3.1 percent, Gilchrist said.
In relative terms, the human services programs were dwarfed by basic operating expenses. But the budget for the county's Department of Family Resources, for example, would increase by 42 percent -- from $7.3 million to $10.4 million -- if Gilchrist's budget is approved by the County Council.
County Council president Michael Gudis said yesterday he believes the council agrees with Gilchrist's budget priorities. "The executive and the council are more on the same wavelength" this year than in the past, he said. The council must approve an operating budget -- as well as the more controversial six-year capital improvements budget -- by May 15.
Gilchrist said yesterday that much of the increase in human services spending is meant to compensate for declining federal spending but also represents a personal priority. "It's outrageous," he said, "that there are people in this county who don't have enough food to eat."
The largest single chunk of the budget -- 45.5 percent -- would be spent on education. Gilchrist proposed spending almost $438 million on county schools, $1.25 million short of the school board's request but the nearest a county executive has come to meeting a school budget request since 1972.
Gilchrist said he supported school board proposals to expand all-day kindergarten and Head Start programs but will not specify what cuts he wants to make until later this month.
Also included in his budget is $3 million and 34 new employes for the expanded county bus routes and the Metro Red Line extension to Shady Grove that opened late last year, a 4.5 percent pay increase for government workers, and a $466,380 increase for the county's Department of Economic Development.
Gilchrist's human services proposals include a $413,000 demonstration program to coordinate local benefits programs and provide training programs to encourage those receiving benefits to become self-sufficient. He also seeks $744,000 to provide residential and day-care programs for 131 mentally handicapped adults released from state institutions.
Gilchrist proposed setting aside more than $1 million for child care, food programs, general public assistance and mental health programs.
Earlier this week, Gilchrist announced he will seek $3.1 million for child-related programs in 1986 and will provide almost $2 million for day care.
"Many times he's had to compromise some of his own feelings, wanting to help people more than he's been able to," said family resources director Charles L. Shaw. "Fortunately, he has more money than he's had, and has been able to do some of the things he feels very deeply about."