The County Council unanimously passed a pair of bills Tuesday — one aimed at giving the county’s inspector more power in its financial and overall oversight of county departments, and another meant to attract more first responders to work and live in the county.
The first bill broadens the county inspector general’s ability to investigate various county departments and agencies. The latter piece of legislation starts a tax credit that will provide some financial relief for the county’s police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and other first responders.
Both votes were 8-0 in support, as Council Member Tom Hucker (District 5) was absent.
Megan Davey Limarzi, the county’s inspector general, said the first bill was a “clean-up” piece of legislation that gives her office more power when it comes to being the auditor of county departments and more agencies.
Language in the bill increases the subpoena power and other aspects of the inspector general’s office, and Limarzi previously told Bethesda Beat that broader language in the bill gives her and colleagues more investigatory power.
The bill becomes law in 91 days, provided County Executive Marc Elrich (D) signs it. Chief Administrative Officer Rich Madaleno said that he expects Elrich to sign the bill.
The office has been involved in multiple high-profile matters in recent years — one involved looking at the integrity of a Montgomery County Public Schools contract in 2016, with a company that outfitted its school buses. In another case, the office found that a lack of separation of duties led to an embezzlement of more than $7 million by an employee of the former Montgomery County Office of Economic Development in late 2018.
Council approves tax credit for first responders
Madaleno also said that Elrich is expected to sign a bill that aims to provide a tax credit to first responders.
County Council President Gabe Albornoz (at-large) and Council Member Hucker were lead sponsors of the legislation, which provides an annual $2,500 property tax credit to county police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians.
The council’s Government Operations & Fiscal Policy and Public Safety committees passed the bill 5-0 earlier this month. Council Member Sidney Katz (District 3) noted that it was amended to expand who was eligible for the tax credit — including sheriff’s deputies, correctional officers and volunteer firefighters.
Council members have said the tax credit is needed, in order to retain and recruit first responders in a competitive region, and as the cost of living in Montgomery County is rising. A family of four needs more than $100,000 to live comfortably, according to several cost of living estimates
The legislation takes effect 91 days after today, per county law.