March 23, 2010

County Executive overstates cuts to his own budget

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, in making the case for the sweeping cuts in his proposed budget, emphasized that his office was not "spared" and would be reduced 26 percent. But critics charge that Leggett's message of shared sacrifice is undone by the fact that much of those reductions are actually fund shifts and cuts that have already been made. Take those items out, as well as a 33 percent reduction in contracts for outside auditors, and Leggett's office only sees a reduction of about 11 percent in his proposed budget. Leggett is looking to shift four staff members at a cost of nearly $300,000 from his office to a new 311 county information call center that comprises county employees from several departments. Two other shifts to other parts of the county's budget would reduce more than $177,000 from Leggett's own budget.

"If you're showing a cut but it shows up someplace else, it's not a cut," said County Council Vice President Valerie Ervin, D-Silver Spring. "You can play all kinds of games with the budget." Leggett also counted the salary reduction of a retired aide, who was rehired as a contract worker using different funds, as a savings for his office. That budget move was approved in the fall as part of a midyear savings plan that Leggett includes as part of his 26 percent reduction for next year.

"I call it Ike math," said Gino Renne, president of the Municipal & County Government Employees Organization.

SOURCE: Washington Examiner

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