The following is text of a letter from the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board to members of the County Council concerning the FY17 County operating budget. The Board approved the letter at their April 18 meeting.
Dear Council President Floreen and Members of the County Council:
Thank you for this opportunity to provide testimony from the members of the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board regarding the recommended fiscal year 2017 County Operating Budget. We appreciate your continued leadership on behalf of our community.
We commend County Executive Leggett for his courage in proposing a property tax increase in his recommended budget to address long-overdue needs – in particular greater investments in education. We strongly feel that additional transparency and public input will make our schools more effective at educating our children. The community has expressed concern that our additional tax dollars won't be directly allocated towards reducing classroom size and closing the achievement gap.
Our residential and business members agree that additional investment is needed for key priorities including: increased resources for school instruction; effective economic development; and bikeable/walkable streets.
Other specific issues pertinent to our area we would like to call to your attention are:
- Increased investment in replacing aging infrastructure - and meeting the demands created by new development - including county roads, WSSC infrastructure, and WMATA;
- The need for circulator services or similar transit improvements in the Pike District;
- An improved and accurate snow removal tracking system; and
- An increase in compensation for Bethesda Urban Partnership to maintain parity with County employees.
While we encourage the County Council to support the recommended tax increase at this time, it is important to continue to strive for and seek out improvements in solutions and approaches for a more efficient and effective government.
Thank you again for the opportunity to share our thoughts with you.
Scott Goldberg, Chair