Potomac’s councilmember Andrew Friedson wanted to take politics out of estimating costs. “To come up with consensus estimates on the front end to take politics out of revenue estimating and to have as many voices in the room at the beginning so when the budget process starts everyone is in agreement,” he said.
The Council passed Bill 6.21 on Tuesday, March 16, 2021, which creates a Revenue Estimating Group comprised of staff from Office of Legislative Oversight, the Department of Finance, the Office of Management and Budget, Council Central Staff, and the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer. The group will help the county more accurately project revenues and build consensus to improve fiscal management of the County’s $5.97 billion annual operating budget and $14 billion six-year Capital Improvements Program (CIP).
“Bills like this don’t get as much attention as some of the other hot button issues that we focus on, but these are really important,” said councilmember Gabe Albornoz (at-large). “We’re all striving to tighten the systems that we currently have.”
”I think it’s important not to underestimate the impact something like this has.”
— Nancy Navarro, councilmember
Committee Chair and Councilmember Nancy Navarro (District 4) and Councilmember Sidney Katz (District 3), who serve with Councilmember Friedson on the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee, were co-sponsors of the bill.
“This is definitely an important best practice,” said Nancy Navarro. “It is so central to the work we do every year when it comes to our budget I think it’s important not to underestimate the impact something like this has.”
The Revenue Estimating Group will provide quarterly reports on revenue projections to the county executive and council president; develop and revise revenue forecasts; perform studies or analyses requested by the county executive or council president; develop a revenue forecast methodology. The Revenue Estimating Group will review and forecast County revenues and report its projections quarterly. The group will consist of staff members from the Department of Finance, Office of Management and Budget, County Council, Office of Legislative Oversight, and Office of the Chief Administrative Officer.
“Accurate and useful revenue estimates are the foundation on which our County’s budget is built. By having better data, we’ll be able to better predict and communicate the County’s fiscal situation, including changes in recordation and transfer tax rates that impact our economy,” Councilmember Friedson said. “Importantly, the Revenue Estimating Group will bring together staff from the County Council and County Executive branch to help build consensus and improve our County’s budget process.”