The crux of fulfilling our mission is balancing environmental stewardship with recreation. The right balance is what will keep our world-class park system in top shape for current and future generations. Right now, we need your help!
Recently, the County Executive released his Recommended FY19 Operating Budget, and several amendments to the FY 19-24 Capital Improvements Program (CIP) that he transmitted in January.
If approved, the County Executive’s proposed budgets (both operating and CIP) will result in delays to many park capital projects and service delivery reductions across most park programs.
The recommended operating budget is $5 million less than what the Planning Board deemed necessary to support our aging park system. Unless the Council can restore a significant portion of this funding, the Parks Department will not have staff or funding to operate new parks coming on line, will implement a hiring freeze, suffer deep cuts in supplies, materials and contractual services needed to maintain the parks, and forego any requested resources to enhance existing park programs and fix aging and failing park infrastructure.
The recommended six-year CIP is $26 million less than the Planning Board’s request. The Parks Department has agreed to $15 million of this reduction which will downsize and delay several planned projects and reduce funding for parkland acquisition. If the remaining $11 million is not restored, long-planned projects such as the Ovid Hazen Wells Recreational Park, Brookside Gardens Master Plan Implementation, Little Bennett Regional Park Day Use Area, Little Bennett Regional Park Trail Connector, Wheaton Regional Park Improvements, Northwest Branch Recreational Park-Athletic Area, funding for the restoration of historical structures, and funding for replacing older playgrounds, courts, trails, and other amenities in our parks will be impacted.
Lastly, the County Executive’s CIP amendments released on March 15 make drastic changes to the County’s approach and funding commitment to environmental remediation projects funded by the Water Quality Protection Fund, which funds environmental programs in the Parks operating and capital budgets, including stream protection and storm water management programs. If you believe clean water and a commitment to protect natural resources is a priority in Montgomery County, please let the Council know.
Montgomery County residents are very much a part of the County Council’s decision-making process. Whether the decision is a new law, a master plan, or the budget, the Council considers all views expressed by community members.
Here are some ways you can communicate with your elected officials:
Take some time to review the Executive’s recommended budget, using the Open Budget tools and stay tuned for more detailed information in the coming weeks.