Friday, April 15, 2005

Budget making process in Montogomery County USA

Following is a letter received by my from Council Member Steve Silverman. Steve is describing budget options available. He is seeking advice and input before casting his vote.

This is how democracy works. Elected officials seek detailed input from their supporters and constituents.

It is too bad that in Pakistan and particularly in Sindh, common people have no say. they hear about the budget after the government has decided it and Finance Minister has made the budget speech.

I am sending this to my readers in order to share how democracy and economic policy works. Here is the letter:


"Dear Friend:

As a Councilmember, I have sought to strike a balance between funding important public services and a reasonable tax burden for the citizens. I want to continue to make Montgomery County a great and affordable place to live.

As the County Council reviews the proposed operating budget for the next fiscal year, we face many competing priorities as we work to balance the budget. We must make decisions regarding government services that are critical to the quality of life in the County, such as an excellent public school system, public safety, transportation, and libraries, as well as important health and human services to help those in need in our community.

I need your advice on budget and tax priorities and have put together an 'unscientific' poll listing a number of general budget priorities that the Council will debate this spring. Please let me know your top three priorities, in order, with number one as most important to you. Just hit the reply button and let me know which of the numbered items or other issues are your first, second, and third priorities. Please respond by April 25.

Please feel free to pass along any other comments on your budget priorities and you may forward this email to others for their views. If you would like to review any or all of the County Executive's recommended budget, go to www.montgomerycountymd.gov and click on the link to the budget.

Budget priorities

1. Across-the-board property tax reductions, beyond those recommended by the County Executive. (He recommends lowering the property tax two cents, for an average household savings of approximately $80 compared to current tax rates.)

2. Targeted property tax reductions for low and moderate-income homeowners. (This would expand the current circuit breaker, which helps low and moderate-income homeowners facing significant assessment increases.)

3. Education initiatives such as reduced class sizes and expansion of full day kindergarten.

4. Other education initiatives such as improvements in special education, gifted and talented, and other initiatives to improve student achievement.

5. Additional faculty and scholarships to enable more students to attend Montgomery College.

6. Funds to reduce waiting lists for various health and human service programs helping low and moderate-income families, such as child care assistance, rental assistance, in-home services for elderly and disabled individuals, etc.

7. Funds to tackle backlogs in basic infrastructure maintenance such as street resurfacing, sidewalk repairs, park and ballfield maintenance, tree maintenance, and fire apparatus.

8. Additional police officers and fire/rescue personnel.

9. Additional library materials and increased hours open to the public.

10. Additional funds for roads and transit.

11. Additional funds for community organizations serving diverse communities.

12. Additional funds for arts and cultural organizations.

13. Additional funds for parks and recreation programs.Thanks for sharing your priorities with me.

Feel free to forward this survey to a friend by clicking here.

Sincerely,

Steve SilvermanCouncilmember"

Ali Nawaz Memon

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