Montgomery County Councilman Philip M. Andrews on Tuesday introduced a plan to reduce the 2010 increase in Montgomery County’s energy tax by 10 percent.
The county's energy tax was raised by 155 percent on homeowners and by nearly 60 percent on businesses and nonprofit organizations in 2010, according to a County Council news release. A 10 percent reduction would reduce county revenues by $11.4 million in fiscal 2014, which begins July 1.
Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg proposes paying for the energy tax reduction by slashing the pay increases for county employees over the next two years. Andrews, who is running for Montgomery County Executive in next year's election, criticized the agreement struck between the county employees unions and County Executive Isiah Leggett (D).
“Mr. Leggett has agreed to pay raises of 13.5 percent for most non-public safety employees, 14.7 percent for most police officers and 19.5 for most career firefighters—those eligible for step increases—over the next two years,” Andrews said in a statement. “These are excessive and unsustainable.”
Andrews said that the county should reduce the pay raises by 35 percent and reduce the energy tax increase "that [Leggett] proposed as a temporary measure during the Great Recession."
The pay raises for county employees are the first in some time, including the first in four years for county police.
The raises are included in Leggett's $4.8 billion budget proposal for fiscal 2014.
“Pay raises of the level agreed to by Mr. Leggett are unnecessary, unsustainable and will crowd out both needed services and needed reductions in the energy tax, which comprises 10 percent of most homeowners’ bill for energy and, in many cases, cost businesses many thousands of dollars, hurting their competitiveness,” Andrews said.
The council will make the final decisions on both the energy tax and the pay increases as it debates the county budget, which is scheduled for approval next month.