Credit: Left to right: Steve Bohnel, Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for We the 45m, Em Espey

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D) is calling the County Council out for a lack of transparency in the fiscal 2024 budget process after Council President Evan Glass (D-At-large) lauded the transparency of the process.

“While there may be disagreements about this budget, there should be no disagreement that this budget process has been more transparent than any other in recent memory. Each committee chair reported their recommendations to the full Council in open, televised meetings and I abolished the omnibus budget consent calendar,” Glass said after the council voted to pass the $6.7 billion budget Thursday morning.

Elrich disagrees.

“Despite statements that are contrary, this has not been the most transparent budget process ever at the County Council. I served on the County Council for 12 years and this is not the most transparent process I’ve ever seen,” Elrich said during a press conference Thursday.

Glass’ statement about transparency appeared to be in response to a statement made by council member Kristin Mink (D-Dist. 5) last week after the council decided in a straw poll to put forward a 4.7% property tax rate increase, which was finalized Thursday.

In her statement, Mink voiced concern that parts of the budget deliberation process were conducted in private to cut items from the council’s high priority funding list and lower the tax increase necessary to fund the budget. Elrich proposed a 10% property tax increase.


“The weeks-long public process was robust and transparent, consisting of public hearings, numerous worksessions, and substantive dialogue between the Executive Branch, community stakeholders, and Councilmembers,” Mink wrote. “There was then a private process, compressed into three days, in which we made significant cuts to the items that had just been publicly deemed High Priority. There was very little space for meaningful discussion with colleagues, and none of it in public.”

“The disconnect between what transpired publicly and the final reconciliation list deeply troubles me. I do not believe this kind of process will result in the optimal budget for our County nor an understanding from our constituents as to how we came to these impactful decisions,” Mink wrote.

Elrich said he concurs with Mink’s statements.


“These final cuts were done in secrecy without any record of which councilmember voted for or against any of these items. The public has a right to know how people vote. That is a fundamental part of democracy, particularly when we’re talking about such a large sum of money,” Elrich said.

In a statement released Thursday after the budget decision, Glass outlined steps he says he took to increase transparency in the process.

“I directed Council staff to identify and publicly report proposed increases from the County Executive and the committees, and each staff report was readily available to the public,” Glass wrote. “Moreover, I extended the time for the public to testify in person and virtually and increased the number of speakers for our budget public hearings, with 166 residents testifying and thousands more calling, emailing and tweeting their thoughts.”


Elrich said he is glad the council approved 98% of his proposed budget but is “disappointed” by the process.

“Certain councilmembers will act and then support the same policies they criticize me for, and they made big decisions in private. I own every decision I made in this budget. My name is on the budget,” Elrich said.

He pushed back on criticism that the proposed budget was “fiscally irresponsible” and “impossible.”

“Those kinds of things are just simply not accurate. And I would say ‘impossible’ is a tad bit of hyperbole. We have a difficult situation. I’m going to be honest about solutions and next steps. We’re allowed to have differences of opinion, but the conversations and votes need to be in public,” Elrich said.