No one went hungry in the $4.8 billion budget Montgomery County Council members tentatively approved Thursday.
Key county agencies, including police, fire and rescue, schools and health and human services will receive more aid and new positions, according to an outline of the tentative spending plan released by the council.
The council is scheduled to hold a final vote on the budget May 23, the last council session before a three-week recess.
All nine council members voted to give tentative approval to the plan for fiscal 2014, which begins July 1.
"Budgets are a reflection of our values. There are always more needs, and more wants, than there are resources available," Council President Nancy Navarro (D-Dist 4) of Silver Spring said in a release. "This year’s budget continues to invest in our economic and social infrastructure."
Under the tentative plan, the county property tax rate would increase by 1.8 cents, to $1.01 for every $100 of assessed value. That's an increase of about $80 a year for a home valued at $460,000, the county's median home value. The plan also maintains a $692 property tax credit for homeowners.
Montgomery County Public Schools would receive all of the money it requested. The $2.2 billion in aid is an increase of about 2.65 percent from last year and far-and-away more than any other part of government agency receives, the release said. The increase also allows the county to meet—but not exceed—the state's maintenance of effort mandate, which requires counties’ per-pupil spending to remain the same or increase from year to year.
Most of the county aid for schools would go to keeping up with the system's growth, Superintendent Joshua Starr wrote in his budget request in December. The district of nearly 149,000 students in 202 schools has experienced an increase of about 11,000 students in five years. It's expected to receive another 10,000 students in the next five years.
Public safety also would receive a bump in funds to pay for two new fire and rescue recruit classes and six additional school resource officers within the police department.
Health and human services programs would be expanded by $5 million, including $200,000 for a food recovery program and more money for a pilot program that doubles food stamp dollars when they are used at farmers' markets.