Published on: Thursday, April 4, 2019 City Manager & Staff Blog

Presentation of the Proposed Budget FY 2020

From the Desk of the City Manager, Suzanne Ludlow

Dear Residents,

At last night’s City Council meeting, I presented the Fiscal Year 2020 Recommended Budget for consideration by the Council. Below are my introductory comments followed by links to budget

City Manager Suzanne Ludlow

documents and to information on how you can share your thoughts with the City Council as they determine the appropriate balance of services and costs for the City of Takoma Park for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2019.

Public participation in the budget process is essential. And, for a budget as tight as this one is, it is very important to share your views on which programs and services should not be cut. People tend to not make comments on elements that they see in a budget that they support – they assume if the programs they like are in a proposed budget, they will stay in the budget. This year, I am proposing to raise the tax rate 2.69 cents just to keep a “maintenance of effort” budget. That means, if there is a desire to have a smaller tax rate, there will need to be cuts in programs, services and, likely, City staff positions. Communicating your thoughts to the City Council now through the April 24 Budget Public Hearing is important so the Council will have the benefit of your views when they do budget reconciliation on April 29.

My opening comments from last night:

I come before you today to speak of responsibility – and the power we have as a team of caring people, caring professionals, to address the work that is before us, and to make the decisions that need to be made.

What is before us? We have a convergence of pressures, projects and opportunities. They are here – all at once.
What is before us?

  1. The Purple Line – 20 years ago, I attended a Maryland Department of Transportation open house with my then 4 year old son, and it was clear that there would be a light rail line coming past Takoma Park with positive and negative impacts someday – today the construction is underway.
  2. Washington Adventist Hospital – 12 years ago, it was announced that the hospital would be moving to another location, taking away the City’s largest employer and health facility – and the acute care patients are moving to a new hospital in White Oak this August.
  3. Flower Avenue Green Street – 10 years ago, Public Works Director Daryl Braithwaite, after learning of the “green street” concept and tired of dealing with lack of attention to Flower Avenue by the State of Maryland and Montgomery County said, “Flower Avenue should be a “green street” – and construction is starting this month.
  4. Library Expansion and Renovation – 5 years ago, a study of what a 21st Century library should be was done and plans were begun to renovate the Takoma Park Library so that it would remain a community living room with books and wonderful programs – and, detailed design work is now underway.

What else is happening?

  • Jurisdictions on every side of Takoma Park are redeveloping, and new businesses are moving into Takoma Park into some commercial spaces that weren’t as vibrant before.
  • Many new families are moving into homes that hadn’t had children in them for years, and schools in the Takoma Park area are bursting at the seams.

I have known for many years that one day we would be at this place. I just didn’t know it would be this year and I didn’t know we would have such a limited pool of resources with which to address these pressures.

Despite our best efforts, tax duplication remains a major issue. And, this year, as I will discuss, there is the surprise in the large number of properties in Takoma Park that lost value in the most recent State property assessment. While the cost of providing City services is increasing, the citywide net assessed value only increased 0.6 percent for FY20. If the City’s tax rate were to stay the same, we would only gain about $75,500 – the equivalent of installing just 600 linear feet of new sidewalk.

We also have challenges in increased risk from climate change, due to longer duration snow or rain storms. And, there are always surprises – for example, possible changes in federal law regarding cell towers or Sanctuary Cities.

We can address these challenges, though. We have the talented staff, we have the commitment to serve, and we have the excitement of creation, of possibility, of collaborative improvement.

However, we cannot address all of these challenges with a budget that does not increase. So, back to where I began this presentation: I come to you today to speak of responsibility and the power we have as a team to make the decisions that need to be made.

Budget Documents
  • FY20 Proposed Budget – note that you can skip to any section via links in the Table of Contents
  • April 3, 2019 Budget Presentation
  • April 3, 2019 Council Meeting Video
  • 2019 City Services – Your Dollars At Work
  • Excel spreadsheets of Proposed BudgetPer the note included in the first tab: “The spreadsheets in the three tabs herein contain raw information pulled from the City’s enterprise financial system, which is used to develop the budget. The columns contain both budgeted and actual activity figures beginning in FY 2017 for each of the line items in the City’s budget. The column titled “Defined Budget” is the current fiscal year budget. The column titled “2019-2020” contains the dollar figures included in the proposed budget. Some line items contain descriptions for how the budget funds are broken down for that particular line. “2018-2019 CERT” represents the current fiscal year budget, while “2019-2020 Prelim” represents the proposed budget.”
Budget Schedule:

All meetings are at 7:30 pm in the Takoma Park Community Center Auditorium, 7500 Maple Avenue, unless otherwise indicated.

  • April 3 Presentation of Proposed Budget
  • April 8 Budget Open House – Takoma Park Community Center Hydrangea Room, 6:00-7:15 pm
  • April 8 Budget Work Session on Proposed Budget
  • April 10 First Budget Public Hearing
  • April 15 Budget Open House – Takoma Park Recreation Center,7315 New Hampshire Avenue, 6:00-7:15 pm
  • April 15 Budget Work Session on Options for Service and
  • Program Reductions – Takoma Park Recreation Center, 7315 New Hampshire Avenue, 7:30 pm.
  • April 24 Second Budget Public Hearing and Constant Yield Tax Rate Public Hearing
  • April 29 Budget Reconciliation – This is the meeting where the key decisions on the budget and tax rates are made by Council
  • May 8 First Reading Ordinances Adopting the FY20 Budget and Tax Rates
  • May 15 Second Reading Ordinances Adopting the FY20 Budget and Tax Rates

To share your thoughts on the budget, please go to  Council Public Comment Form and/or testify at one of the two public hearings on the budget.