Morgan Frisch/Recorder staff District 2 Legislator Brian Sweet and Legislative Chairman and District 3 Legislator Roy Dimond pictured Tuesday during the budget and finance committee workshop reviewing the monthly dashboard comments.

 

By MORGAN FRISCH

Recorder News Staff

FONDA —  The Montgomery County Budget and Finance Committee reviewed several figures in the current budget Tuesday which to date, are not on track to meet yearly anticipated revenues, but determined these variances could be due to seasonal line items.

Legislators reviewed the data dashboards they receive monthly which include the general fund, county road fund, road machinery fund and health insurance fund. The dashboards allow legislators to keep track of where revenues and expenditures are on a monthly basis.

“We want where we are at year-to-date, to fall in line with how many months have elapsed in the year,”  Michael Pepe, committee chairman and District 7 Legislator, said during Tuesday’s workshop meeting.

County Treasurer Shawn Bowerman provided comments for the board on items that are hitting the “red zone” for the month in each dashboard. The red zone

Morgan Frisch/Recorder staff
Michael Pepe, Budget and Finance Committee chairman and District 7 Legislator, conducts a workshop meeting on Tuesday.

shows areas that are tracking 20 percent or less of where they should be to date.

Bowerman said the sales tax revenue is down due to a two-month lag and only one month is realized to date. State and federal aid are on a 30- to 60-day lag and a majority of this is due to the Department of Social Services not processing claims because of an employee turnover last year.

“Moving forward to the dashboard, where you are seeing that huge negative percentage for state and federal aid, just to give you an idea, last year DSS had $842,000 booked to date, this year they have zero. Again, it has to do with I have yet to receive any claims for January, February, March from the department.”

Bowerman said adding that DSS has been playing catch-up and hopefully by the end of April will see claims being booked for state and federal aid.

Pepe asked if a plan has been put in place and Bowerman said he has spoken to the director of the finance department and the commissioner and they working on getting up to speed.

The red in the departmental income portion of the budget was noted because of seasonal line items. Pepe said the annual line item for clerk fees is approximately $1.2 million and the figure to date is at $136,000. He said this could be attributed to mortgage tax and Department of Motor Vehicle fees which will pick up in the warmer months. He also mentioned that the legislature passed a resolution last month which states they will collect a larger share of the mortgage tax income compared to past years.

“That budget line item was a function of the fact that our executive knew that we were going to begin to capture a larger percentage of that revenue than the pace that it was before,” Pepe said.

The refuse and garbage line was also considered a contributing factor due to seasonality as well. Pepe said January and February are slow months for the transfer station and that should pick up as the weather breaks.

Intergovernmental revenues were also in the red zone due to election chargebacks billed in November, boarding of prisoners and Stop Drinking While Intoxicated fines.

Pepe said the money for election chargebacks probably will be seen in the last quarter of the year. The line item for boarding of prisoners was estimated at $20,000 when the yearly anticipated revenue is at $300,000.

District 2 Legislator Brian Sweet asked the committee if they felt it would be a good idea to have representation from the department that’s contributing to areas with such “deep negatives.”

“That’s exactly right,” District 6 Legislator John M. Duchessi said. “Some of these things Shawn can account for and thank you for the report. But now, we are getting down to some issues that have to be dealt with in a direct fashion.”

Legislators agreed that the sheriff should be invited to the next budget workshop.

Sweet said they should invite any department which is tracking low to a meeting, to get an idea of their plan to get back on track.

Legislative Chairman and District 3 Legislator Roy Dimond said he agreed with Sweet, but thinks the executive should be the one to request it.

District 4 Legislator Robert Headwell, Jr. asked if the $300,000 revenue was something the sheriff said he was able to provide.

Bowerman said in the 2016 budget the anticipated revenue for the sheriff was $800,000 and only about $150,000 has been realized. Bowerman said he determined the cause as “extenuating circumstances”. For the 2017 budget, the sheriff originally budgeted $100,000, Bowerman said and the executive asked if it were possible to get at least $300,000 because of the previous year.

“With hopes that he could obtain that number,” Bowerman said, but added there were past years where that line hit over $1 million.

District 9 Legislator Robert Purtell said the variable seems to be the federal prisoners and the method the county received federal prisoners in the past.

Legislators asked what Fulton County numbers were and Purtell said after speaking with a Fulton County supervisor, their numbers are down also.

Bowerman said Schoharie and Herkimer do not have county jails and they are boarding elsewhere. He said he didn’t know what it would take to get some of those inmates because they are bordering counties.

Bowerman said the way the sheriff explained the situation the last time he spoke about it was that federal inmates are a regional approach and it’s possible this region is down with federal inmates.

Legislators said they would stay on the topic.

The Stop Drinking While Intoxicated fines are down because of seasonality and because in general DWIs are down and the message is getting across, Pepe said.

Red lines in the county road fund and road machinery fund were also a result of seasonality. The state aid for Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program is seasonal on reimbursement basis. Pepe said it will likely catch up between May and September and that will likely remain the explanation if its tracking below the percentage level it needs to be at. Transportation expenses are tracking because the first half of the snow contracts are paid and that should be  back down next month, Pepe said. Interfund revenues in the road and machinery fund have seasonal billings to county roads and capital projects for equipment rental.

Pepe said the health insurance fund hhas intergovernmental charges that are billed quarterly and there are other fringe benefit expenses.