Chamber Weighs in on County's FY 2012 Operating Budget (Public Hearing Testimony, April 7, 2011)

Posted Date: 
April 7, 2011

Montgomery County is facing another major budget deficit for next year, as the County Council continues to move toward its approval next month of a final Fiscal Year 2012 Operating Budget.

MCCC President and CEO Gigi Godwin delivered the Chamber's budget testimony at a public hearing on April 7. Godwin highlighted the importance of refocusing the County budget "to create an environment where our economy can thrive." She noted the the need for the County to invest in economic development and job creation, as a means of increasing the County's tax base to support the rising costs of County services.

Following is the complete Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce testimony that Godwin delivered:

On behalf of our Board of Directors and members, we thank you for the opportunity to comment on the FY 2012 proposed operating budget.  We recognize that Montgomery County is currently facing significant challenges in balancing a budget in which there are no easy choices.  We know you are trying to achieve a sustainable County budget, in which expenditures and revenues are balanced over the long-term.

In order to achieve that goal, we urge you to refocus the County budget to create an environment where our economy can thrive.  In order to do that, we recommend redirecting resources to achieve greater job growth. 

Last year, when the Council passed the Montgomery Business Development Corporation, you acknowledged the importance of a strong economy.  The legislation included the statement that this Council “recognizing that the future success of Montgomery County related to education, infrastructure, public safety, public welfare, and quality of life is built on a vibrant and growing economy, successful businesses are the key to creating this economy, andgovernment must foster a legislative and regulatory environment which encourages business success, to achieve these goals.”

Many things must happen in order to achieve this environment, but central to the issue of job growth is the budget of the County’s Department of Economic Development (DED).  Currently, the total budget for the County DED is on par with other regional entities that do Economic Development.  However, though the total budget is comparable, it is spread across many additional functions beyond its core mission of attracting and retaining jobs.

So while many of our competing jurisdictions have approximately the same economic development dollars, they spend all of those dollars in the capture of new companies and fostering the growth of existing companies.  By contrast, the 8.2 million dollars proposed for DED in FY 12, about half is spent on capture of new businesses and retention of existing businesses.  Therefore, just as our competitors are increasing their economic development efforts, our DED does not have the same resources and has additional missions that distract from the core mission.

We realize that today’s discussion is about next year’s budget.  But, both economic development and the County’s fiscal health are long term efforts.  In that spirit, we encourage the Council to take a close look at many of the suggestions of the Organizational Reform Commission, and take concrete steps towards enacting some of these recommendations that would allow the County to operate more efficiently.  Enacting those recommendations, while not an easy task, will give our businesses and residents assurance that we have a sustainable budget and a healthy future economy that supports our quality of life.

Thank you for your consideration of our priorities. 

Tagged in:

MCCC Strategic Partners