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Votes

6-Year Plan

Station 30, library among Potomac projects in Duncan's proposed capital budget.

A renovation of the Potomac Library, improvements to bicycle path along MacArthur Boulevard, and an overhaul of the aging volunteer fire station on Falls Road are among the Potomac projects slated to receive funding under County Executive Doug Duncan’s proposed-six year construction plan.

At the same time, three Potomac-area school additions and five Potomac school modernizations would be delayed by one year due to school construction funding shortfalls in the first half of the six year plan, according to a Jan. 20 memo written by Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jerry Weast.

Duncan’s proposal almost fully funds the Board of Education’s $1.17 billion school construction request over the six years, but falls short of the request by $80 million in fiscal year 2007 and $40 million in fiscal year 2008, prompting the delays.

DUNCAN RELEASED his fiscal year 2007 capital budget and fiscal year 2007-2012 Capital Improvements Program proposals Jan. 15. County council deliberations on the proposals begin with public hearings Feb. 7 and 8.

Under the Montgomery County Charter, the council has the sole authority to alter and approve the executive’s recommendations, though both expenditures and revenue measures are constrained by other charter provisions, including a rule requires a seven of nine vote majority vote to increase property taxes more than the annual increase in the consumer price index for Washington area

The council must approve budget expenditures by June 1 and revenue measures by June 30.

So far, the fiscal year 2007 budget process has shown little chance of stirring the same mirroring the contentious debates of last year’s process, when councilmembers openly sniped one another over the property tax limit and individual projects.

Duncan’s proposed spending of $2.7 billion over six years is possible thanks in part to the sharp spikes in real estate assessments that have fueled property tax concerns in recent years.

Nearly all of the Potomac projects identified in the $2.7 billion proposal are funded in the last two years of the six year window. Planning and construction money in the back of the CIP is considered less certain than in the first two years. The county council makes minor amendments to the CIP in odd-numbered years and major changes each even-numbered year.

CURRENTLY, DUNCAN’S proposal provides $558,000 in FY 2012 to design and build a more than 3,000 square foot addition to the Potomac Library, while renovating the interior and replacing the library’s heating and cooling systems.

The library is currently the sixth-busiest in the county, measured in circulation per square foot. It would be closed during construction.

The budget would also supply $789,000 for renovation of the outdated Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department Station 30 on Falls Road at Oaklyn Drive. The station does not currently have separate restrooms or sleeping quarters for male and female firefighters.

The station is mostly staffed by career rescuers but is owned by the Cabin John volunteer corporation. The department took on $800,000 in debt for an earlier phase of the renovation aimed at expanding the vehicle bays to accommodate a tanker truck. Following construction, the tanker still couldn’t fit, and the department has had to spend close to $200,000 more to correct the errors.

The CIP earmarks $1.1 million for improvements to the MacArthur Boulevard bicycle path in fiscal years 2012 and 2012. The work would in clued widening the shoulder to include an on-road bicycle lane and an off-road path and the spot improvements to MacArthur itself.