Montgomery County Commissioners face budget challenges
Montgomery County faced some bad news Thursday morning, as the county Commissioners found out their funds are essentially running out. With the latest update on the progress of Montgomery County's budget. Uri Monson, Chief Financial Officer, reported that the deficit for the county has grown past what they anticipated.
The projected deficit for the end of the County's new quarterly budget reports was $1.7 million at the end of quarter two. Monson's presentation on the third quarter stated that now the operating deficit lies at just under $3.9 million. Commissioner Chair Joshua Shapiro reiterated the fact that when the current board took office, they faced an inherited $10 million gap.
"The primary reason for the situation is again the state cuts in funding in mental and behavioral health services," informed Commissioner Leslie S. Richards. Commissioner Bruce Castor stated he feels that the state cuts to the health services is not the primary reason for the deficit. "The primary problem is the budget we were given as a false document," Castor added.
The budget update for the third quarter does not include the costs of maintenance from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. "They are not yet at the assessment and recovery stage," Monson said they are keeping record of the county's financial input to the cleanup.
New hirings for the county have been placed extremely strict hiring restrictions due to the possibility that those positions could be cut next year.
In addition to dealing with their budget deficit, commissioners said county buildings are deteriorating and well in need of replacement. One Montgomery Plaza, and two county parking decks,all have extreme repairs and are in critical condition and must be replaced. The total cost of the building replacement at One Montgomery Plaza is $79.5 million.
Replacement of the Main St. garage, which has drainage issues, cracking, water infiltration, staining, the window systems are compromised, deterioration and replacement $7.7 million in construction. To demolish and replace the other county parking lot is $18.5 million.
"It's very hard to hear," said Commissioner Richards, "Nobody is in danger at this point… years and years of deferred maintenance is going to stop with this administration."
The Commissioners are focused on tackling the county's budget. The goal of the county is to present the 2013 budget at the next Commissioners meeting, 10 a.m. November 15. There will be public comment hearings held, both daytime and evening sessions, 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Nov. 29 in the Commissioner's board room. The county hopes to have full passage of the budget on December 6. Commissioner Shapiro stated it is three weeks ahead of schedule.
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