OFFICE OF T H E COUNTY ATTORNEYExecutive Office Building101 Monroe Street, 3rd FloorRockville, Maryland 20850-2589TELEPHONE301/217-2600FAX 301/217-2662TDD 301/217-2499Jack SchwartzAssistant Attorney GeneralChief Counsel, Opinions and-AdviceOffice of the Attorney General200 St. Paul PlaceBaltimore, Md. 21202Dear enakorLaurence Levitan has relayed a request to youfrom Montgomery County Councilmember Michael Subin a s k i n gwhether Section 16-402 of the Education Article, Annotated Codeof Maryland, permits the County Council to place anyrestrictions on the establishment of tuition and fees by theBoard of Trustees of Montgomery College (Board) under Section16-203 of the Education Article.For the reasons stated below, we conclude that there i sno conflict between Section 1.6-203 and Sections 16-401 and16-402 of the Education Article and Section 305 of the CountyCharter in the review and approval of the budgets, theappropriation of funds, and the levying of taxes by the CountyCouncil.BackgroundThis inquiry arises out of a proposed amendment toSection 305 of the County Charter supported by CouncilmemberSubin which would expressly exclude t u i t i o n and fees s e t by theBoard from the aggregate operating budget. Councilmember Subinbelieves that the inclusion of tuition and fees in the aggregateoperating budget restricts the authority of the Board to settuition and fees. Therefore, Councilmember Subin believes thatState law requires this change to the County Charter.Statutory ProvisionsA.STATE LAWSection 16-201 of the Education Article authorizes theestablishment of a Board in each county. 75 Op. t t y ' yGen.
Jack SchwartzJuly 14, 1994Page 2(Oct. 25,1990) Section 16-203(j) empowers the Board to set"tuition and fees".Section 16-401(a) requires the Board to submit anoperating budget, capital budget, and long-term capitalimprovements program to the "county governing body" (county).Section 16-401(b) requires that the operating budget show " l lrevenues . and sources of income, including: (i) Any funds fromfederal, State and local sources.".Section 16-401(d)provides that capital and operating budgets must be "preparedand considered in accordance with county fiscal procedures notinconsistent with State law." Section 16-401(e) provides thatthe county "shall review and approve t h e budget of the communitycollege and may reduce it."Section 16 402(a) provides that a county "mayappropriate money to pay t h e cost of establishing and operatinga community college.". Section 16 402(b) requires the countyto make appropriations by major functions. Section 16-402(c)states that a college may not spend more on any major functionthan the amount appropriated for it by the county. Sections16-403 and 16-406 require the county to provide a certain amountof money for operating funds known as the "county share".33.COUNTY CHARTERSection 305 of the County Charter requires that theCounty Council adopt spending affordability guidelines for thecapital and operating budgets, including guidelines for theaggregate capital and operating budgets. Section 305 requiresthat any aggregate capital or aggregate operating budget thatexceeds the guidelines in effect requires the affirmative voteof seven Councilmembers.- - ---- ------Section 303 of the County Charter requires the CountyExecutive to submit an annual capital budget and operatingbudget, which includes all revenue sources and expenditures, tothe County Council, not later than January 15 and March 15respectively. Section 305 provides that the Council may add to,delete from, increase or decrease any appropriation item in theoperating or capital budget.Under Section 305 an aggregate operating budget whichthe aggregate operating budget for the preceding fiscalyear by a percentage greater than the Consumer Price Index forthe twelve months preceding December first of each year musthave the affirmative votes of six Councilmembers. Section 305provides that the aggregate operating budget excludes t h eexceeds
Jack SchwartzJuly 14, 1994Page 3operating budgets for enterprise funds, the Washington SuburbanSanitary Commission, the bi-county portion of theMaryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and theWashington Suburban Transit Commission.Section 305 requires that the Council approve eachbudget, as amended, and appropriate the funds no later than June1. Section 305 requires the Council to make the tax leviesdeemed necessary to finance the budgets by June 30.Analysis,The General Assembly has established a statutory systemunder which the Board has been granted the powers necessary togovern the operation of the College. These powers include thesetting of tuition and fees. However, in fiscal matters theBoard is subject to the review and approval of the County. TheBoard must submit an operating and capital budget to the County,which must be prepared and considered in accordance with Countyfiscal procedures, not inconsistent with State law. The budgetsmust shbw all revenues, which includes tuition and fees. TheCounty must review and approve the budgets and may reduce them.The county makes the appropriations and levies the taxesnecessary to fund the appropriations. The County has the finalauthority to determine the amount of expenditures and the amountof County revenues that will support those expenditures subjectto providing the "county share".The Board and County are expected to work together inthe budget process. However, in the case of a disagreement theBoard cannot through the setting of tuition and fees mandatethat the County provide--a-levelof funding above that which theCounty deems appropriate. The Board could not set tuition andfees at one dollar and thereby require the County and thetaxpayers of the County to involuntarily fund the entire budgetfrom County revenues. If that were the case, the Board, whichis appointed, would have authority over an elected CountyCouncil and County Executive. This-is-clearly not the statutoryscheme established in the Education Article. Such a procedurewould disenfranchise the taxpayers of the County.The County in its approval of expenditures and revenuesis empowered by the Maryland Education Article to determine theamount of County resources which will fund those expenditures.The Board has the power to increase tuition and fees if itwishes to fund those expenditures unfunded by County revenues.
Jack SchwartzJuly 14, 1994Page 4The Board can determine whethel- those expenditures are ofsufficient importance so as to require an increase in tuitionand fees. However, the County Council must still approve theexpenditure of any increase in either tuition or fees. This isthe statutory scheme created by the General Assembly. It setsup a tension between the political bodies which serves as acheck and balance of funding levels.Councilmember Subin focuses on the provision of Section305 which requires that an aggregate operating budget exceedingthe aggregate budget by the CPI must receive the affirmativevote of six councilmembers. This provision was added to theCharter on November 7, 1978 in response to the "TRIM"initiatives. I t excluded the budgets of the Washington SuburbanSanitary Commission, the bi-county portion of theMaryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and theWashington Suburban Transit Commission because State lawrequires the mandatory levy of certain taxes by the County forthese agencies. 64 Op. t t ' yGen. 35 (March 6, 1979). Section305 was amended in 1984 to add to the list of exclusions fullyself supporting enterprise funds. Section 305 was next amendedin 1990 by Question F to require the County Council to establishspending affordability guidelines. An aggregate budget thatexceeded the guidelines is required to receive the affirmativevote of seven councilmembers.The citizens and taxpayers of the County through theseamendments to Section 305 have sought to limit the amount ofCounty revenues that are spent for services, including collegeeducation. The TRIM amendment deals with the expenditure sideof the budget, while Question F deals with the revenue side.These provisions provide a process for approval of revenues andexpenditures. These provisions are completely consistent withthe provisions of -Sections 16--401.and 16-402.Councilmember Subin suggests a conflict between Section16-203 and Sections 16-401 and 16-402 of the Maryland EducationArticle and County Charter Section 305. The general rule ofstatutory construction is that where two provisions appear to beinconsistent or contradictory, every effort must be made toreconcile the provisions so as to effectuate the legislativepurpose. Md. Indus. Deve1.v. Meadow-Croft, 243'Md. 515, 521(1966). If reasonably possible the parts of a statute are to bereconciled and harmonized, the intention as to any one partbeing found by reading all the parts together, and none of itswords, clauses, phrases, or sentences shall be renderedsurplusage or meaningless. Schweitzer v. Brewer, 289 Md. 430,438 (1977).