Montgomery County workers and residents are angry that many county agencies' budgets will be cut next fiscal year as the public schools' funding increases.
The county is facing a $71 million budget shortfall as revenues continue to drop. But Montgomery County Public Schools is expected to receive an extra $30 million under a state law that requires per-pupil spending to increase each year as enrollment grows.
"There are good guys and bad guys in this county right now, and the good guys are the county employees. The bad guys are the Board of Education," said Yale Weisberg, a Gaithersburg resident and member of the Montgomery County Taxpayers League. "[The BOE] won't give an inch. ... The question is, what can you do about it? We keep hearing you can't do anything."
County workers say they are unhappy the MCPS budget is being increased while salary freezes, furloughs and staffing cuts have been plaguing departments for the past few years.
Residents lined up at a recent public hearing to complain about the shrinking budget for county employees and services. Libraries in particular have fallen victim to deep cuts; a report from the Office of Management and Budget shows from fiscal 2009 to fiscal 2013, the libraries' budget has been cut by 22 percent.
"We need to be making progress in a lot of areas. There's a lot of work that still needs to be done," County Council President Roger Berliner said Monday during his last media briefing as council president. "We absolutely support our school system. We have a first-class, world-class education system, and we need to continue to support it."
Berliner, D-Bethesda, said Monday that Councilwoman Nancy Navarro, D-Eastern County, will have to steer the council to balance the budget when she takes over as president on Tuesday, and the council will have to deal with the potential "fiscal cliff."
"What we're faced with is a real examination of how are we going to move forward," Navarro said. "We have actually done a lot better than many of our neighboring jurisdictions. We have to be grateful that here in Montgomery County, we've done a lot better."