Morgan Frisch/Recorder staff
Montgomery County Legislative Chairman Roy Dimond and District 5 Legislator Daniel Wilson pictured Tuesday during a special meeting.
By MORGAN FRISCH
Recorder News Staff
FONDA — The Montgomery County Legislature unanimously approved recommended changes to the 2018 tentative executive budget Tuesday.
Prior to the vote, legislators held a public hearing that resulted in no comments and briefly commented on the amendments.
The amended budget is a $113.8 million spending plan with a $28.6 million tax levy, an increase of $600,000, or 2.22 percent, which stays under the tax cap.
The Budget and Finance Committee met Sept. 25 and went over suggested changes to Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort proposed spending plan. In their list of approximately 25 changes, they were able to decrease the tax levy by $61,362 compared to the executive’s budget figures.
Among the amendments, legislators chose to increase projected sale tax figures by $475,000.
District 2 Legislator Brian Sweet asked Montgomery County Treasurer Shawn Bowerman about sale figures to date.
Bowerman said the county is approximately $800,000 over where they were at this time last year.
“So you’re thinking it shouldn’t be an issue to hit 475,” Sweet said.
“We are going to exceed that this year,” Bowerman said.
Some other amendments included adding $85,000 to fund the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce as the county’s tourism agent; adding a full-time sheriff’s deputy position, the cost of which will be offset by several part-time positions; increasing the Montgomery County Office for Aging line by $20,000 to a total of $287,000; adding a probation assistant for $33,559; removing several office furniture line items; and adding a $60,000 increase for motor vehicle equipment.
Montgomery County Legislative Chairman Roy Dimond thanked Budget and Finance Committee Chairman and District 7 Legislator Michael Pepe for his guidance throughout the budget process.
“He put it in a format that was easy to understand and go through,” he said.
Dimond also thanked Bowerman for his work and Ossenfort for “putting together a great budget this year.”
Ossenfort has until Monday, Oct. 23 to veto any of the amendments, Dimond said.
“If we do not receive anything from the executive by the 23, the budget will pass as proposed this evening,” he said. “ If we do receive vetoes from the executive they will be addressed the following day at our regular monthly meeting which is Tuesday, Oct. 24.”
District 1 Legislator Martin Kelly was happy they were able to reduce the tax levy.
“We reduced the tax levy, so it’s a win-win,” he said.
Pepe said he didn’t expect any surprises to take place during the special meeting Tuesday.
“We don’t know if the executive will be vetoing any of these line items, but if he does, then we will be prepared to take a look at them on the 24th before we vote on the budget,” Pepe said.
In other business, District 6 Legislator John Duchessi mentioned a meeting on Sept. 26 when the legislature approved to transfer $89,977.50 to pay for two outstanding lawsuits.
“Something occurred to me, that we really don’t address — the number of lawsuits that the county faces right now as a contingent liability,” he said. “ I think as we go forward into the next budget year, we should begin that process by performing some kind of assessment.”
He asked if there could be a discussion regarding the lawsuits with Montgomery County Attorney Meghan Manion’s guidance.
“What I would recommend is that on Oct. 17 during education and government, if you could prepare a little summary of what we’ve got going on,” Dimond said to Manion who agreed.