Proposed county budget includes tax hike, fund balance use

Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort presented his proposed $109.1 million 2015 budget Wednesday evening at the county courthouse.

Ossenfort said the proposed budget would increase the tax rate by 2.98 percent, which is under the state-mandated tax cap of 3.55 percent. The spending plan would reduce the county’s budget deficit–use of the unappropriated fund balance from the current year’s $3.9 million to $2.8 million. That figure would continue to go down each year, putting the county “on the road to a balanced budget by 2020,” he said.

The current appropriated fund balance is $4.01 million, according to the executive budget document.

The county legislature will hold public hearings on the budget proposal on Oct. 5 and adopt the budget by Oct. 10. Ossenfort will have until Oct. 23 to approve or veto any changes made by the legislature; that body can override any vetoes by a two-thirds vote before Oct. 31. The budget would take effect Jan. 1, 2015.

Legislature Chairman Thomas Quackenbush said he anticipated no major difficulties in finalizing the budget.

“Looking at the budget process, we made a commitment at the beginning of the year to leave politics at the door,” Quackenbush said. “We already have consensus with most or all of this budget.”

The budget proposal would increase spending by $7.75 million over the current year’s plan, including:

  • $2.9 million to operate solid waste transfer stations formerly owned by the Montgomery-Otsego-Schoharie Solid Waste Management Authority, or MOSA
  • $1.1 million in “one shot” expenses, including four patrol cars for the Sheriff’s Department, equipment and vehicles for the Department of Public Works, a handicapped-accessible van for veterans, a community service work crew truck and capital work at Fulton-Montgomery Community College
  • $1.6 million in increased appropriations in the Department of Social Services
  • $280,000 in increased appropriations in the Sheriff’s Department
  • $208,000 increase in the Community Development Fund
  • $224,000 increase in the County Road Fund
  • $680,000 increase in the Road Machinery Fund
  • $550,000 in landfill post-closure operation

Ossenfort said the proposed increases in spending provide “the shot in the arm the county needs.”

The budget proposal also projects $81.9 million in revenue (not including the tax levy), an increase of $7 million over the current adopted budget. Revenue increases include the following:

  • $2.9 million in solid waste operations
  • $370,000 in increased vehicle use fees
  • $304,000 in increased revenue from the Sheriff’s Department
  • $1.98 million in increased revenue from the Department of Social Services
  • $750,000 increase in the Road Machinery Fund
  • $550,000 in landfill post-closure operation

John Becker

John Becker is both a Reporter and Consulting Editor for The Compass. He and his wife Pat operate Abbey Farms in Amsterdam NY.