The Montgomery County (MD) Council, citing the unmet needs of a school system facing explosive enrollment growth and a widening academic achievement gap, voted Thursday to raise the average residential property tax bill by 8.7 percent — the largest increase in seven years.
The tax hike required a unanimous 9-to-0 vote because it exceeds the charter limit on tax revenue that the county can collect each year. The increased revenue will help underwrite a $5.2 billion operating budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, with about half of the money resulting from the tax increase going to Montgomery County Public Schools.
The intent was to stave off what members saw as a tipping point for the 156,000-student system, which is expected to enroll an additional 10,000 students over the next five years — many of them speaking little to no English. To boost funding for school construction, the council on Wednesday agreed to fund nearly all of the district’s six-year,$1.73 billion capital budget request.