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Local: Education

Montgomery College asks county for $6.4m more

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Local,Maryland,Education,Rachel Baye

Montgomery College is asking county taxpayers for $6.4 million more while it plans to hold tuition rates steady in the coming fiscal year.

The proposal includes an additional $7.7 million for a 2.25 percent raise for college employees in fiscal 2014, according to an internal County Council memo obtained by The Washington Examiner. The proposal would make fiscal 2014 the first year in five that pay increased for most employees. This year, employees received bonuses instead of raises.

The college is overdue for a pay raise, said Councilman Craig Rice, D-Germantown, who sits on the council's Education Committee.

"They've been very responsible in terms of their budget requests for the last few years, and I think now's a time when we're going to have to look at doing a little bit more for our employees," he said. "And that's the same for our county [government] employees, as well."

Of the total $229.5 million requested, $100.7 million would come from Montgomery County, a 6.8 percent increase and more than required by the state law known as the "maintenance of effort" law, which prohibits the county from decreasing its funding of the college from year to year.

County lawmakers have heavily criticized the state law for the way it ties up more than half the county's budget without giving local lawmakers a say in the matter. Some council members have warned that Montgomery County Public Schools' request to increase its budget by $10 million more than the legal minimum will likely not be approved.

But Montgomery College's request needs to be put in a different context, lawmakers said. MCPS' budget is 10 times the college's.

"Of course, anytime you go above MOE, it has implications," said Council President Nancy Navarro, D-Eastern County. "But I don't think we can compare the scope of the budget of the school system with Montgomery College."

The numbers have not yet been finalized, so they could change before the college makes its official request to County Executive Ike Leggett. He is scheduled to release his recommendations on March 15.

Representatives from Montgomery College and the SEIU local that represents many college employees did not return requests for comment.

rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com

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