The Montgomery County Council gave formal approval Thursday to a $4.8 billion operating budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
The spending plan, a 4.1 percent increase over the current fiscal year, includes pay raises averaging 7 to 10 percent for unionized fire, police and non-uniform employees. The average homeowner will see property taxes increase by $80 a year. The new budget also expands the number of police on the streets and in schools, while also increasing some library hours.
The overall budget—for all county agencies, including Montgomery College and Montgomery County Public Schools —was approved by a unanimous 9-0 vote. But Council member Phil Andrews (D-Rockville -Gaithersburg) voted against several sub-categories of the budget package, including spending for county departments, to protest the raises. Andrews, a candidate for county executive in 2014, called the $31 million in raises “excessive and unsustainable.”
In a message to county employees, released after the council’s action, County Executive Isiah Leggett said they deserved to benefit from the economic recovery.
“I believe the Council members who supported the pay increase share my view that all of you have continued to provide exceptional service despite the hard times we have come through,” said Leggett, who has not announced whether he will seek a third term.