County Executive Marc Elrich said he had been on the job for only 48 hours when staff from the Office of Management and Budget alerted him that he needed to come up with a savings plan of $44 million for the current fiscal year.
“You walk in and two days later they say, ‘you have to cut the budget,’” he said.
Elrich said he has had good meetings with his staff so far, particularly his Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Kleine and Budget Director Rich Madaleno, who were both confirmed Tuesday by the Montgomery County Council.
“Rich and Andrew and I are beginning to operate as a team,” he said.
Elrich said he is committed to maintaining the same level of county services, even with cuts, and “doesn’t anticipate” eliminating jobs, but said he would “have to see.”
But salaries for some high-level county employees, he confirmed, would decrease from previous levels seen under the administration of former County Executive Ike Leggett. Madaleno, Kleine and Recreation Director Robin Riley are all making $14,000 to $23,000 less than their predecessors.
“I think the salaries we’ve proposed are more than reasonable,” Elrich said. “I think that this will be more in line with salaries in the [Washington, D.C.] region and what the competition is.”
Elrich said he is still committed to keeping his campaign pledge of not raising taxes, and that he doesn’t believe the County Council would a tax increase.
“I haven’t seen anything that’s gonna change my mind,” he said. “We’ve got a rough idea of what we want to do, and we know it’s difficult to do in a short period of time.”
Elrich is remaining tight-lipped about other department appointments he plans to make in mid-January.
The directors of the county’s Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Community Partnerships and Housing departed just before he took office. Although acting directors are in place, Elrich declined to comment on which department heads would be replaced.
“I don’t have a certainty on any of the ones [departments] that are sitting vacant,” he said.
Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.email@example.com