Montgomery County doesn’t have enough money to honor its contracts to police officers, firefighters and general government workers, so how can they “forgive” $450,000 in taxes that Lockheed Martin owes?
The County Council will hold a hearing on Sept. 21 to review a bill recommended by County Executive Ike Leggett and introduced at his request by Council President Nancy Floreen to allow Lockheed Martin to skip out on the $450,000 it owes in lodging taxes. The company already slipped through forgiveness for $370,900 in similar taxes it owed the state on an “expedited” bill that passed the last session of the legislature.
Here’s what Mr. Leggett had to say in a statement introducing the bill to the Council:
“In these challenging economic times, it is critically important that the County create an enabling business environment, that we identify and address unwarranted impediments to private sector growth, and that we help our companies be competitive in bidding on federal government contracts.”
Mr. Leggett’s compassion for a corporation that reported $45.2 billion in revenues in 2009 and paid its CEO more than $42 million is remarkable.
Montgomery County is ready to move mountains to get County Executive Ike Leggett’s pet Fillmore Project built, but not for libraries. It has recently come to light that the County “found” some $3 million in additional funds for Fillmore—even though the County Executive’s office had stated more than once that the County’s financial obligation for Fillmore was capped at $4 million.
It is disturbing that only days earlier, County officials were telling residents of Silver Spring that they should be prepared to reduce their expectations for the new Silver Spring Library project by exactly the same amount—$3 million. Coincidence? We don’t think so.
The Montgomery County Library system has become, for some inexplicable reason, a target for budget cuts well beyond reasonable austerity—with 129 jobs cut this year and a 30 percent cut in funding over the past two budget cycles. If anyone in the County needs a reminder of what those cuts have cost residents, just remember that Montgomery County is the only jurisdiction in the state of Maryland that was forced to cancel its summer reading program and as a result, 23,000 children in Montgomery County were underserved over the past summer.
The Protect Your Montgomery Coalition—made up of general government workers, police officers and professional fire fighters— calls on Mr. Leggett and members of the County Council to re-examine their priorities. County residents are connecting the dots: we don’t have enough money to pay for essential services in May, but nobody is going to notice an extra $3 million to fund rock and roll just three months later?