Where's The Money?
Do You Know Where Your Tax Dollars are Going?
By Reardon Sullivan
Many of you are aware that the County Executive has proposed a 10%+ increase in our property taxes. This increase is being framed as solely to support our schools. This is patently wrong.
I believe the County must carefully review each dollar in the budget to make sure we are maximizing the return on our investment. Let’s get rid of the “pork” and “ideological” spending and concentrate on funding for many of the critical needs that we have including basic STEAM education, support of the arts, and special-needs citizens before raising taxes in the $6.8 billion operating budget and/or the $17 billion capital budget.
I had the opportunity to testify in front of the County Council and bring a few things to their attention as part of the ongoing debate over the budget including:
- The narrative that the property tax increase is just for the schools is patently FALSE. The budget includes an increase of roughly 7% for many functions of the County government, with several getting double digit increases that exceed Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS).
- When reviewing the MoCo checkbook, we found over 25,000 checks written to unnamed vendors totaling over $155 million. When asked who these vendors where we were told in writing that this information could not be provided.
- Servicing our debt is the second highest service category in the budget. I am not suggesting that the County should not pay its bills, just don’t rack up debt at the rate we have been incurring it for ideological follies. https://spending.data.montgomerycountymd.gov/#!/year/2023/
- The fourth highest expense category is “Not Defined.” I’m not sure why anyone would publish a budget with the fourth highest expense listed as “Not Defined.” Shouldn’t we be able to clearly and transparently define our expenses? If someone brought me a budget where the fourth highest expense was not defined, I would toss them out of my office. https://spending.data.montgomerycountymd.gov/#!/year/2023/
- The real increase in the property tax is indicated as 15% in the published budget. Let’s contrast that with the 3% cap on rent increases proposed by the County Executive. https://apps.montgomerycountymd.gov/BASISOPERATING/Common/Schedule.aspx?ID=SCHC&SchedID=C3
- The proposed budget reduces the police force by another 8 FTEs while crime is going up. https://apps.montgomerycountymd.gov/BASISOPERATING/Common/Program.aspx?ID=47D&PROGID=P47P03
- The budget has over $20 million in “future grants.” This appears to be “parked money” or a “slush fund” for the County Executive. Who gets this money? Should this money be used to support our real needs before raising taxes? https://apps.montgomerycountymd.gov/BASISOPERATING/Common/Program.aspx?ID=99D&PROGID=P99P33
- A not-so-deep dive into the $17 billion Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) shows many projects that are down County where the County Executive and County Council members live, including $80 million in bike lane related projects which are not widely accepted throughout the County. That is approximately $70 for every resident of the County.
As a longtime resident of Montgomery County, I feel that we are getting taxed at every turn.
- When we use our phones we get taxed.
- When we use electricity to charge an electric car, we get hit with the “Temporary” energy tax now entering its third decade.
- If you can afford to go shopping, there's a bag tax.
- If a person buys a home they get additional recordation taxes.
- If you just OWN a home we are being asked to endure another double-digit property tax increase.
- Finally, if all that taxing makes you want to drink, there is a tax there too.
I offer that the citizens of Montgomery County are fed up. For the first time, the population of the County is going down. The people with means are moving to less taxing areas resulting in a net decrease in the average income in the County, decreasing our tax base.
I ask that anyone reading this spend one hour reviewing the budget, it will scare and infuriate you. Please see:
Operating Budget: https://apps.montgomerycountymd.gov/BASISOPERATING/Common/Index.aspx
Capital Budget: https://apps.montgomerycountymd.gov/BASISCAPITAL/Common/Index.aspx
After reading the budget contact every Council Member, news outlet, friend and neighbor to let them know what you found.
Reardon "Sully" Sullivan is a Rockville businessman, former Montgomery County Executive candidate, former Chair and Member of the Maryland Republican Party from Montgomery County.
Tell Sully what you think at [email protected]