ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) — The Montgomery County Council has passed a $4.4 billion budget that will shrink the current year’s budget for the first time in more than 40 years.

The budget approved Thursday raises the cost of benefits for all employees. It increases property taxes, and it increases fees to help close a $300 million shortfall.

Funding for schools is down by $25 million. After the budget passed, school board President Christopher Barclay said the budget could eventually undermine the school system’s progress.

Police officers protested the cuts in benefits. Others demonstrated outside wearing clown costumes.

Even as the council made cuts, spending in the budget is still up slightly at 2.2 percent due to rising costs.

The budget takes effect July 1.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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