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Montgomery County passes 2013 budget

Montgomery County Commissioners unanimously passed the proposed 2013 budget with no tax increase for county residents.

After working on the budget since January 2012, County Commissioners Joshua Shapiro, Leslie Richards and Bruce Castor along with their staff have created an "honest and transparent budget" that works to fix the fiscal errors of the past administration.

The budget for 2013 is balanced, assumes no tax increase, and makes a significant increase to the county's pension fund and grows the reserve, which has not been done in four years.

The approved millage rate for the county is set at 3.152 mills and the 2013 budget general fund expenses totals $409,685,493 with $39,500,000 exclusive for debt service.

Commissioner chair Shapiro elaborated that when he and Richards took office on January 3, 2012, they were dealing with a $10 million budget shortfall. Currently, county government buildings are crumbling and in extreme need of repair that will cost at least $50 million to fix and upgrade their emergency radio system that will cost at least $45 million to upgrade.

"We are moving in the right direction to establish a positive, long-term path forward for our county," stated Shapiro.

The budget includes no reforms and eliminates all earmarks. While it has caused concern, the county has worked closely with several organizations to identify and fund contracts for direct services for county residents such as Montgomery Child Advocacy Project (MCAP), Legal Aid and the Women's Center of Montgomery County.

"This is a transparent budget and a budget that will get Montgomery County moving in the right direction," said Commissioner Richards, "Every single dollar is accounted for."

Non-general fund budgets passed includes the Health Choices Fund at $98,421,094, Self Insurance Fund at $1,750,000, 911 Emergency Dispatch Services Fund at $13,341,353, Recycling Fund at $238,320, and Liquid Fuel Tax Fund at $2,086,170.

Approved budget subsidies for the county include Montgomery County Community College at $15,885,975, Montgomery County-Norristown Public Library at $2,361,000, Cooperative Extension at $320,800, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission at $209,575, Mass Transportation at $4,191,953 and Montgomery County Conservation District at $458,915 for a total of $23,428,218.

County Commissioners gave much praise to Chief Financial Officer Uri Monson and the county staff for their hard work and dedication in building a financial base for the county of Montgomery.

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