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Heather Nellis
Montgomery County District 1 Legislator Martin Kelly, left, and District 5 Legislator Terry Bieniek are shown at the legislature’s Finance Committee meeting at the county office building in Fonda Tuesday.


Finance Committee takes look at county budget

Thursday, January 23, 2014 - Updated: 7:19 AM


For the C-S-E

FONDA -- The Montgomery County Legislature’s Finance Committee took a preliminary look at the county’s budget during a meeting Tuesday.

District 1 Legislator Martin Kelly, the committee chairman, invited Treasurer Shawn Bowerman, who gave a brief presentation about the current state of the county’s finances.

“The major purpose of the committee is to be in charge of spending in the county,” Kelly said. “This way, we can move forward with the best interests of the county in mind.”

Bowerman talked about the main sources of the county’s revenue. This year is the first that the budget has reached the $100 million mark.

“The budget hinges around the tax levy,” Bowerman said. “There’s really only four main sources of revenue that the county has. They consist of sales tax, state and federal aid, property tax and fees. There’s not a lot of places we can go to generate a large volume of revenue.”

Bowerman said state and federal aid represents about $18 million of the budget. He said the $26 million tax levy has decreased during the past few years, and is to the point where sales tax revenues are exceeding the levy at roughly $27.5 million.

“Our appropriations have been growing pretty steadily,” Bowerman said. “I’m not saying we should be raising taxes, but you can see, we’ve gone through the yo-yo effect with the tax levy. I don’t think that’s a good way to do it. My view on taxes is to hold the line instead of them going up and down.”

Legislators talked about the capital plan mandated by the new county charter and its potential impact on the budget.

Kelly voiced his concern for the condition of the county’s buildings, and the deterioration of its roads and bridges.

“We definitely have to start looking at how we are going to fund these projects,” he said. “This county needs infrastructure improvements in order to continue to capitalize on our sales tax revenue. If our infrastructure is deteriorating, businesses aren’t going to come here.”

Bowerman mentioned a three-year moratorium on capital projects that was imposed by the now-defunct board of supervisors. The moratorium expired in 2013.

“[The Department of Public Works] has a schedule where they try to do X-miles of roads each year and X-number of bridges,” Bowerman said. “But when you put that off a couple years, you’re going to fall behind schedule.”

District 5 Legislator Terry Bieniek expressed concern for how the county can begin to rebuild considering the state-imposed property tax cap.

“It becomes a balancing act,” Bowerman said. “It’s definitely going to have to be a long-term budgeting process. It’s not something you’re going to complete in your three-year terms.”


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