Montgomery County commissioners adopt $409.7 million budget, holding line on taxes
The Montgomery County commissioners unanimously adopted Thursday a $409.7 million budget for 2013 that holds the line on taxes. After a controversial run-up to the vote, the budget resolutions were passed without any additional public comment.
The Montgomery County commissioners unanimously adopted Thursday a $409.7 million budget for 2013 that holds the line on taxes.
After a controversial run-up to the vote, the budget resolutions were passed without any additional public comment.
Before the vote, the commissioners talked about how different this year's budgeting process - and the 2013 budget - was from those of their predecessors.
"It is an honest budget, and it is a transparent budget," Commissioners Chairman Josh Shapiro said. "The 2013 budget primarily 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 a national recession."
The loudest complaints when the budget was proposed in November were from nonprofit groups affected by elimination of the county's practice of earmarking funding for them. Those cuts saved $957,300 in subsidies paid out of the general fund. The county determined that funding through those earmarks violated state law.
Three groups - the Montgomery Child Advocacy Project, Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and the Women's Center of Montgomery County - got most of their funding restored through fee-for-services contracts that commissioners approved Thursday.
For the county, having a smaller workforce due to attrition, as well as cheaper health costs, created savings.
Other departments and programs will get less in 2013, including behavioral health, which received $57.4 million in 2012; the new budget allots it $50.4 million. Subsidies paid out of the general fund also take a hit, with Montgomery County Community College losing the most. Its subsidy will drop to $15.9 million from $21 million in 2012.
Departments getting bigger chunks of money include the public defender, the Board of Assessment Appeals, child welfare, and public safety.
Shapiro said that when he and Leslie S. Richards took office in January to sit alongside the returning Bruce L. Castor Jr., they inherited "a mess."
In contrast to their predecessors, the three commissioners sounded like an a cappella group crooning in harmony.
Castor said he took fire in the previous administration and in his last reelection campaign for his criticism of his colleagues' handling of county finances.