Montgomery County board approves budget with no hike
firstname.lastname@example.org The Montgomery County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed the $409.6 million 201P general fund budget during their regular business meeting Dec. 6.
The figures that make up this number reflect the actual projected spending by the county in 201P. It assumes $409.6 million in expenditures and $412.2 million in revenues.
The commissioners also voted to make strides toward recouping losses to the county’s fund balance, which represents 12.5 percent of the more than $20 million required to restore it to recommended levels.
Approval of this balanced budget will mean no real estate tax increase for county residents.
“It is an honest budget. It is a transparent budget,” said Montgomery County Commissioners Chairman gosh Shapiro.
“The 201P budget primarily reflects the need to repair errors of commission and omission by prior administrations, as well as absorbing state cuts to human services and continuing to grapple with the effects of the national recession.”
The budget was adopted quietly, without a word of protest from members of the public — a stark contrast to the fervent and at times emotional testimony given at the previous week’s budget hearing.
As it was proposed, all earmarks were to be eliminated, including stipends previously given out to a total of 20 entities — some now considered extraneous in terms of their legality within the county budget.
The 201P budget was adopted with a few adjustments, differing from how it was proposed Nov. 15.
Chief Financial Officer Uri Monson explained how some revenue estimates were corrected in the amended budget. Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania was among the earmarks to be zeroed out, but the organization was awarded t wo contracts of $200,000 and $T0,000 to provide legal services to needy individuals in the area. The Wom- en’s Center of Montgomery County was given a $10,000 contract and the Montgomery County Child Advocacy Project received $20,000.
Montgomery County Community College will receive a subsidy of $15.8 million, down from $21 million in 2012.
When the current commissioners took office in ganuary, they inherited a $10 million shortfall left by the previous administration.
Commissioner Bruce L. Castor gr. has warned residents for years that if the county did not make a payment to the pension fund, it would find itself in trouble. Adoption of the budget saw the first time in four years the county put anything toward pensions.
“This budget is very lean and it’s very tight, and it will be difficult on a lot of people. But as a result of it, we will have a base on which to build and we will be able to put Montgomery County in a position where it can resume its former greatness that it once had, and be regarded as the finest county government in all of Pennsylvania,” said Castor.
During budget hearings last week, commissioners heard tearful pleas from parents associated with the ARC Alliance (formerly the Montgomery County Association for Retarded Citizens) and other social service agencies. They asked the commissioners to reconsider cutting funding to those agencies, despite Shapiro’s assertion that the budget needed to focus its resources on providing the core services of government.
“While these earmarks supported many worthwhile organizations, legitimate questions were raised about the legality of these payments in prior budgets,” he said. “Upon researching the issue, it became clear that the commissioners are not authorized to make these kinds of direct appropriations under the Second Class County Code, and that such transfers of taxpayer dollars are further prohibited by provisions of the Pennsylvania State Constitution.”
In addition, 58 employees from the Montgomery County Behavioral Health/Developmental Disabilities Department will be laid off at the beginning of next year.