The Recorder

County to vote on budget changes tonight

By MORGAN FRISCH

Recorder News Staff

FONDA — The Montgomery County Legislature is expected to vote tonight on recommended changes to the 2018 tentative executive budget.

During a special meeting tonight, the legislature will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. on the proposed amended budget followed by a vote on the changes.

“We are going to vote on them in the form of a resolution as a proposal to amend the budget that the executive submitted to us,”  Budget and Finance Committee Chairman and District 7 Legislator Michael Pepe said Monday.

The Budget and Finance Committee met Sept. 25 and went over suggested changes to Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort’s proposed  $113.3 million spending plan.

Some of the proposed changes include:

• A $20,000 increase to the Montgomery County Office for Aging line.

• A new deputy sheriff’s position that will be offset by several part-time positions in the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department.

• Including a probation assistant at  $33,559.

• Including the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce as the county’s tourism agent.

• Removing several office furniture lines items.

A list of all the changes is available for viewing on the county website.

Pepe said Ossenfort has the ability to approve or veto any or all changes that the legislature has suggested by Oct. 23.

“I have no indication right now that he is anticipating doing such,” Pepe said. “But, certainly, he has 20 days to essentially veto anything that we are sending his way.”

If the amendments are approved, the tax levy will decrease by $61,362, Pepe said, adding that even if Ossenfort chooses to veto any of the changes, the figure could decrease even further.

“I don’t see it going the other way,” Pepe said. “The amount of the decrease would only become larger as a result of vetoes, that’s all, which is good.”

In the executive’s tentative budget, the total real property tax line for 2018 is $28,692,167 or a 2.44 percent increase.

Ossenfort said the legislature added approximately $300,000 to the budget and relative to the entire budget this is a small portion that was added back.

“There were minor changes compared to the entire budget,” he said. “I think that just shows we are very much on the same page and working together. Nothing that was put there was really surprising, and I will make a decision on if we veto anything.”

Ossenfort said in the amendments it looks like the legislators are going to boost the sales tax projection by half a million dollars.

“So there isn’t more fund balance used and the tax rate doesn’t go up from where I had it at,” he said. “ I think they are being very thoughtful in how they make their changes and at this point there is nothing that is really a deal breaker, but we are going to listen to what they have to say and kind of take it day- by- day at this point and see how the process unfolds.”

Ossenfort said overall, it’s been a thorough and positive budget discussion.

Pepe said he thinks the budget process has run quite smooth.

“I think every legislator had an opportunity to voice their opinion as to why they were suggesting certain line items to be amended,” Pepe said. “ Everybody’s voice was heard who wanted to make a change or was looking for a change.”

Montgomery County Legislative Chairman Roy Dimond said Ossenfort presented them with a great budget and legislators only made a few adjustments here and there.

He also gave credit to Pepe, for “really unpacking the budget and breaking it down so it was easy to understand.”

“By the 23 [of October] if Matt doesn’t provide any vetoes to any of the changes we made, then the budget will be approved as amended as of [today],” Dimond said. “If he decides to veto any items then the legislature by two-thirds majority would have the opportunity to override the veto if they chose too.”

Dimond said he didn’t expect any controversies.

“I expect the budget as amended to be approved unanimously and then we will move on,” he said.