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Canajoharie, NY ,

County approves tentative budget for 2015

Thursday, August 21, 2014 - Updated: 10:03 AM


For the C-S-E

FONDA -- The Montgomery County Legislature unanimously approved its 2015 tentative legislative budget last Tuesday at a special meeting.

The budget, which was passed without a prior discussion, calls for expenses to total $1,087,473, a relative decrease from last year's expenses.

However, Finance Committee Chair and District 1 Legislator Martin Kelly said the numbers are still "rough" and adjustments are expected as the budget process moves forward.

Kelly said even though it is not complete, the legislature had to tentatively adopt its budget by Aug. 15, as per the charter.

It will now be passed onto Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort to be incorporated into the total county budget.

"Being that this our first year, there were some areas we weren't able to do because the county executive has to do during the budget process," Kelly said.

He said the figure doesn't include budgets for the Office of Aging, Soil and Water Conservation and the Cornell Cooperative Extension, which are incorporated into the total legislature budget.

Major anticipated changes are expected in the insurance line item which is currently set at $610,000. Kelly said the legislature is still in the process of sorting through bids for a liability insurance provider, which will impact the budget.

"In addition, we haven't been able to acquire our loss run on our judgment claims, which as we move forward in selecting an insurance provider, hopefully we will be able to get those numbers so we can more accurately budget for that as we get closer to adopting a county budget for 2015," he said.

Another significant increase in the budget includes a $24,000 spike in judgments and claims to a total of $35,000. For 2014, a total of $10,000 was budgeted, but, as of May 31, judgment and claims expenses total $24,000.

"It is very difficult to actually budget successfully for that," Kelly said, adding insurance and judgments are two areas that are generally given more funds. "We would hate to adopt something and end up dipping into contingency later."

Ossenfort said he has been meeting with department heads for months and will be entering into formal budget meetings next week.

While the figures are still being worked out, Ossenfort did say there are several significant changes expected in the budget, specifically those to the Economic Development and Planning Department as well as the Departments of Public Work and Social Services.

Those changes involve possibly relocating DSS into a satellite office, prioritizing resources and allocating additional resources, which will all impact the budget.

The budget focuses on a few themes, Ossenfort said, namely financial stability and sound budgeting; planning for critical investments; and, organizational improvements to make the county more efficient.

"That budget I expect will live in the tax cap and at the same time put us on a path to end our dependency on the fund balance over the long term, as well as provide for some of these organizational improvements, and also give us that financial stability so we have these up and downs with tax increases and tax decreases," Ossenfort said. "The focus is a foundation for our future that is one of stability and good sound planning."

The complete county budget is expected to be presented to the legislature on Sept. 3.


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