County budget proposal: $109M

FONDA – Montgomery County Executive Matthew L. Ossenfort on Wednesday proposed a $109 million budget for 2015 that calls for a nearly 3 percent tax-rate increase and the use of $1.1 million in what the proposal refers to as “one-shot revenues” for capital improvements.

The proposal, which is nearly $8 million higher than the 2014 adopted budget, would reduce the county’s $3.9 million budget deficit to $2.8 million, according to budget documents.

“The executive budget is the result of a collaborative approach to budgeting. It puts us on a path to strengthen the county’s financial outlook, while making critical investments and upgrades,” Ossenfort said. “I’m very much looking forward to working with my legislative colleagues in the coming weeks, as we work toward the adoption of the final budget in October.”

The budget’s tax increase would stay under the county’s state-imposed tax cap by 0.57 percent.

The proposal increases appropriations by $7.75 million over 2014. It includes $2.9 million for waste transfer stations; $1.1 million for four sheriff patrol cars, Public Works Department equipment and vehicles, a handicapped-accessible veterans van and a community-service work crew truck; $1.6 million for the Department of Social Services; $280,000 for the

Sheriff’s Department and jail; $208,000 for the Community Development Fund; $224,000 for the county road fund; $680,000 for the road machinery fund; and $550,000 for landfill post-closure operations.

The proposal includes $81.9 million in revenues – excluding the tax levy. This represents an increase of $7 million over the 2014 budget. The revenue increases include $2.9 million from the transfer stations, $370,000 from a vehicle-use fee, $304,000 from the Sheriff’s Department and jail, $1.98 million from the DSS, $750,000 from the road machinery fund and $550,000 from the landfill post-closure operations.

The budget proposal calls for $1.1 million in “one-shot revenues” to pay for some expenses, such as the equipment for the Department of Public Works, the four new patrol cars, the veterans van, capital for Fulton-Montgomery Community College and the community service work-crew truck.

Among the one-shot revenues is money from the dissolution of the Montgomery-Otsego-Schoharie Solid Waste Management Authority, of which Montgomery County was a member. According to Andrew Santillo, county spokesman, the revenue comes from a portion of MOSA’s value. This includes the county’s receipt of money from land, equipment and other assets.

One-shot revenues also will come from the dissolution of the Montgomery County Health Insurance trust.

Bowerman said the sheriff’s office is making more money by housing inmates from outside the area.

“The executive has proposed improvements that I think all of us would admit are necessary and crucial to moving the county forward,” Montgomery County Emergency Management Director Jeffrey T. Smith said in a news release. “I’m pleased with how this process has taken shape and happy with the direction we are heading in.”

The budget is the first presented by a Montgomery County executive. Last year, the county changed to a legislature form of government with an elected county executive.

The executive budget proposal includes new expenses for the county executive’s office. They include $50,650 for a director of labor management relations; $39,943 for a communications specialist; $45,670 for an executive secretary; $50,000 for professional services; and $1,000 for mileage allocations. The county executive is paid $85,000 per year. The total expenses for the executive’s office would increase from $175,210 in 2014 to $278,133 next year.

“This budget exemplifies the effort of both branches of government to work together toward a common goal,” Legislative Chairman Thomas L. Quackenbush said in a news release. “We have all had a chance to express our opinions in this process and continue working together moving forward.”

Heading into the 2015 budget, Montgomery County faced a $3.9 million budget deficit. The executive proposal closes the budget deficit by $1.1 million.

A proposed vehicle use tax would be dedicated to the county’s aging roads and bridges.

County District 5 legislator Terry Bieniek said the vehicle tax would be a $10 fee to all vehicles registered in Montgomery County, generating roughly $300,000 a year. The money would help pay for road and bridge repairs.

“We’re probably the only county that has so many miles of county roads,” Bieniek said.

Salary increases in the budget are based on a Civil Service Employees Association contract agreement, which calls for a roughly 1.5 percent increase for clerical and public works employees.

Leader-Herald reporter Kerry Minor contributed to this report.