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      Montgomery County Budget passed, cuts health and retirement benefits

      ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) A new budget in Montgomery County cuts workers' health and retirement benefits by $33 million.

      The $4.37 billion budget, aimed at closing a $300 million shortfall, was unanimously approved Thursday by the Montgomery County Council.

      It also includes a 4.2-cent tax-rate increase. The county's contribution to the school budget would be cut by $25 million, though the police department will receive nearly $3 million more.

      County officials say they had to take steps to rein in the rising cost of benefits.

      The budget is scheduled to take effect July 1. A final vote on the spending plan is scheduled for Thursday.