Posts Tagged ‘budget’

Montgomery County Budget

Friday, November 20th, 2015

The Montgomery County Commissioners Thursday received a proposed $389.7 million 2016 budget.

Some of the new costs the county will incur in 2016 include:
• A $3.2 million increase in prison health care costs
• $2.6 million in increased debt service costs
• $1.3 million increased debt costs for the aggressive infrastructure repair of county roads and bridges
• $500,000 in interest costs for the emergency radio purchase program
• $300,000 in initial costs associated with the failed Logan Square investment in 2010 with more to come
• $1 million for an arbitration award to county correctional officers

Montco Budget

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

The Montgomery County Commissioners adopted a $375.7 million general fund budget and other associated budgets that include an increase in the county’s reserve fund, increases spending on much needed infrastructure projects, lowers debt service, provides pay increases to county workers, and contributes to the county pension fund all without raising taxes.

In addition to the general fund budget, the commissioners also adopted a $93.1 million capital budget and a n $11.7 million open space budget. The 2014 budget assumes the completion of the sale of the Human Services Center and the Parkhouse nursing facility. The budget also projects a year-ending fund balance equivalent to 11 percent of
revenues, which is consistent with the level recommended by the Government Finance Officers Association. Under the previous administration, the county’s fund balance had been drained from nearly $100 million to under $20 million and resulted, in large part, in the county losing its coveted AAA bond rating. The projected fund balance for 2014 is $41.1 million. The new budget also assumes a required payment to the county’s pension fund for the second consecutive year after five years of no contributions.

“This is a balanced budget that does not raise taxes, makes critical investments in human services, infrastructure, public safety, and our county workforce,” said Josh Shapiro, chair of the board of commissioners. “It returns our county reserve fund to required levels, lowers our debt service, again makes a payment to the pension fund, continues the process of making our government more effective and efficient and reduces overall spending.”

Montgomery County 2014 Budget

Monday, November 25th, 2013

NORRISTOWN, PA — The Montgomery County Commissioners unveiled a proposed 2014 budget that does not raise taxes, makes critical investments in human services, infrastructure, public safety and its county workforce. It returns the county reserve fund to recommended levels, lowers the county debt service, makes a payment to the pension fund, continues the process of making county government more effective and efficient and reduces overall spending.

Outlook For Montgomery County

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Moody’s Investors Service late affirmed Montgomery County’s Aa1 bond rating saying that it reflected the county “management’s efforts over the past year to grow recurring revenues, control costs and improve long-term budgeting procedures.” At the same time, however, Moody’s revised the county’s outlook from stable to negative, basing that decision on what it called “the county’s narrow financial position following several years of operating deficits, including a larger than projected deficit for fiscal 2012.”

In its outlook, Moody’s said the county suffered “significant operating deficits in fiscal years 2008 through 2012, driven largely by structural imbalances that the county began to close in fiscal 2012.” It went on to explain that the new county administration employed “a variety of cost reduction measures that resulted in a more modest operating deficit in fiscal 2012 than in several prior fiscal
years.”

“We are not at all surprised by either of Moody’s actions today,” said Uri Monson, the county’s chief financial officer. “Moody’s reaffirmed our rating, because they know that we are aggressively and systematically addressing the problems we inherited, but they also know that our road has not been an easy one to traverse, and these challenges will not be solved overnight.”

Emergency Radio System

Sunday, January 6th, 2013
Norristown, PA  – The Montgomery County Commissioners voted unanimously to enter into a $29.974 million contract with Motorola Solutions, Inc. to replace the county’s emergency radio system.  The commissioners additionally agreed to a $9.882 million contract with Motorola for a 10-year maintenance contract for the system.
As recently as 2011, the previous county administration was using estimates of $100 million and up for the cost of the infrastructure and radio portion of the project.  The $29.9 million figure includes $23.85 million for infrastructure equipment and installation of necessary microwave relays and the necessary software to upgrade 3,400 currently owned subscriber radio units.  This would include the installation of 10 new radio towers throughout Montgomery County to eliminate dead zones and generally improve communications throughout the system.
The remainder of the $29.9 million ($6.124 million) would be used for the purchase of 1,800 additional radio units.
The commissioners took the action at their public meeting on Thursday, and then were joined by police chiefs, fire chiefs, EMS personnel and other first responders and law enforcement officials from throughout the county at a press conference announcing the contract.
“Our fundamental responsibilities as commissioners are to protect the safety and well-being our residents and to further protect the fiscal well-being of the county and make sure that taxpayer dollars are well-spent,” said Josh Shapiro, chairman of the commissioners.  “Today we accomplished both.  Under this contract, we are able to do more than was originally anticipated and we were able to do it for 70 percent less than the previous board said it would cost.”
Commissioner Bruce Castor, who was designated to lead the effort to identify what was needed for the upgrade and how to do it, praised the working committees he put together made up of police, fire, EMS, other public safety entities and municipal officials for their hard work.
“This was a long time coming,” said Castor, who voted against the attempt by the previous administration to address the situation.  “Commissioners Shapiro and Richards placed their trust in me to lead this effort, and with the help of our excellent county staff and the stakeholders on the committee we have arrived at this wonderful day.”
Commissioner Leslie Richards was equally ebullient about the contract.  “A year ago I was a supervisor in Whitemarsh Township faced with the daunting amount of money the previous administration said this would cost,” she said.  “I felt like the necessary homework had not been done and local municipalities were being asked to make major commitments without that homework being finished.  Today, I feel the total opposite of frustration.”
Speaking for the chiefs of police, Chief Mark Toomey praised the commissioners “for pushing this difficult rock up the hill.  Our infrastructure is at a critical point, and I thank the commissioners for having the courage to bring this to fruition.”
Motorola is expected to begin work on the upgrades early in 2013 after the contracts are finalized.
“This is a great day for the taxpayers of Montgomery County and an even better day for the first responders of Montgomery County,” Shapiro said.
Press Conference
From Left: Commissioners Castor, Shapiro, and Richards were joined by police chiefs, fire chiefs, EMS personnel and other first responders and law enforcement officials from throughout the county at a press conference announcing the contract.

Montco Passes 2013 Budget with No Tax Increase

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Norristown, PA – The Montgomery County Commissioners today unanimously adopted a $409.6 million budget for 2013 that makes the first contribution to the county’s pension fund, begins to rebuild the county’s reserve fund, and does it without raising taxes.

The budget projects $412.2 million in revenues in 2013 and reserves $2.5 million for replenishing the county’s Fund Balance, which had shrunk from nearly $100 million to $20 million during the four years of the previous administration.

“This is an honest and transparent budget,” said Josh Shapiro, chairman of the board of commissioners. “This budget 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.”

Vice Chair Leslie Richards praised the work of Chief Financial Officer Uri Monson and said the new budget ensures that the county’s reserve fund will not be used to pay county expenses. “It is a tough budget. It is a responsible budget. It is a transparent budget. We will continue to help others find other avenues for funding that we are unable to provide because it is not in the core responsibilities of what the county has to do,” Richards said.

Commissioner Bruce L. Castor, Jr. called the budget “mean and lean.” He continued saying, “this budget gives us a base upon which to build and return Montgomery County back to its previous fiscal position.”

One of the most discussed sections of the budget involved the elimination of earmarks to 20 agencies in the county, several of which provide social services to county residents.

“In order to protect the vital services that this county provides, we eliminate all earmarks from this budget,” Shapiro explained. “While these earmarks supported many worthwhile organizations, legitimate questions were raised about the legality of these payments. Upon researching this issue, it became clear that the commissioners are not authorized to make these kinds of appropriations under the Second Class County Code, and that such transfers of taxpayer dollars are further prohibited by provisions of the Pennsylvania State Constitution.”

Shapiro said the law authorizes the county to enter into formal contracts with these organizations, to deliver those services and programs that the county would otherwise itself provide. “This is in keeping with what I and the other Commissioners have said since we began this budget process – that the County must focus its limited resources on providing the core services of government,” Shapiro said. “That is why we have worked closely with several of these organizations over the past few weeks to do just that.”

Through these contractual arrangements, the county will be positioned to provide these vitally important services in a more targeted, constructive, and transparent manner, all while operating within the framework of the laws of our Commonwealth. (A listing of those contracts approved today by the commissioners appears at the end of this press release.)

Shapiro detailed six other highlights of the budget during his remarks:

• This budget is balanced without using any gimmicks. It eliminates waste, duplication, and the fiscal malpractice that allowed for undercounting and overestimating.
• Shapiro and Commissioner Leslie Richards made a commitment during the 2011 campaign not to raise taxes this year and this budget assumes no tax increase.
• Commissioner Castor rightfully complained that the County did not make a payment to the pension fund for the past four years. This budget makes a significant contribution to the pension fund.
• Past budgets were often balanced on the backs of county employees. By contrast, this budget actually invests more in our county employees by improving their health benefits at no additional cost to them through savings we realized with our new broker.
• When the previous administration took office the county’s reserve fund was nearly $100 million. When this administration took office it was a mere $20 million. In fact, the erosion of the reserve fund was the stated reason by the ratings agency for the downgrade in the county’s bond rating. This budget makes a serious down payment on the future by growing the reserve for the first time in four years.
• This budget contains real reforms that will make tax dollars go further and yield savings in the future from efforts like departmental consolidation.

Shapiro reiterated that the budget adopted today was in many ways dictated by the “mess” that the previous administration created including:

• A $10 million budget shortfall that necessitated immediate cuts.
• County government buildings that were crumbling and will take at least $50 million to fix.
• An emergency radio system that will require at least $45 million to upgrade.
• The need to borrow money our first month in office just to make the initial payrolls and pay operating expenses.

“If we fail to make these tough choices now, we will simply perpetuate a broken system that costs taxpayers more while giving them less,” said Shapiro. “In other words, these cuts are necessary in order to meet the County’s core responsibilities to our constituents. Notwithstanding the challenges, let me be clear—we are moving in the right direction. We effectively managed the short-term crises and now with this budget we establish a positive, long-term path forward for our county.”

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The following is a list of contracts approved by the commissioners with agencies that lost their earmarks in the new budget:

• A contract, not to exceed $200,000, with Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania for assistance with housing-related legal matters
• A contract, not exceed $70,000, with Legal Aid for case coverage assigned by the courts to represent lower income parents in Juvenile Court and Parental Terminations in Orphans/Juvenile Court
• A contract with Montgomery County Child Advocacy Project (MCAP), not to exceed $20,000 for case coverage assigned by courts for child advocacy
• A contract with the Women’s Center of Montgomery County, not to exceed $10,000, for assistance with Protection from Abuse Orders

Harrisburg Files For Bankruptcy

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Mayor Thompson says Council Bankruptcy Move Going Nowhere
(Harrisburg) – City Mayor Linda D. Thompson has been advised by Acting Solicitor Jason Hess that Council’s actions in approving an engagement letter with an Attorney and in passing a resolution authorizing any Attorney to file for bankruptcy on the City’s behalf were of “no force and effect” because the passage of those resolutions, without having been approved by the Office of the Solicitor prior to introduction, is a violation of City Ordinance 1-201.1(d). Furthermore, the Mayor is advised that such action is “unauthorized” without having the Solicitor’s office first review and approve an engagement letter with outside counsel. Mr. Hess has advised City Council of these opinions by memorandum and during last night’s meetings, however City Council decided to pass the resolutions over Mr. Hess’s objection. Meanwhile, Mayor Thompson said today that she will not approve the hiring of an attorney to pursue bankruptcy at this time, nor will she take any action to file for bankruptcy. “This action clearly violates city law and is indicative of the careless disregard for procedure and process that has come to represent the actions of Council members Brown-Wilson, Williams, Koplinksi and Smith,” Mayor Thompson said. The Mayor said the action is also “hugely unpopular with registered voters in the City of Harrisburg.” A survey conducted this week by ABC27 News of about 1,000 registered voters found overwhelming rejection of bankruptcy as an option for city financial recovery. “The survey found only 15% of registered voters in Harrisburg think bankruptcy is a good idea,” Mayor Thompson said. “And I agree with them.” “I will proceed with the implementation of my recovery plan, and I welcome any constructive ideas members of City Council might bring to the current recovery plan before the Senate and the Governor take action on SB 1151 next week.”