County budget at $120M

FONDA — Earlier this month, Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort submitted his 2021 executive budget to the County Legislature and is proposing a $120.1 million spending plan, which stays under the tax cap for the year.

According to a press release, included in the executive budget is a proposed property tax levy increase of 1.83 percent or $561,785. General fund balance usage for 2021 is $2.5 million, down from $2.6 million appropriated for 2020.

“We had to make tough decisions while putting together the Executive Budget,” Ossenfort said. “Between the looming economic crisis and uncertainty caused by the pandemic, 2021 has been one of the most difficult budgets to date, but I’m pleased we were able to remain below the tax cap and make reductions in spending without having to lay off employees. We budgeted very conservatively, certainly with our revenues, but also limited unnecessary expenses.”

We are off to an encouraging start with the 2021 budget,” said Joseph Isabel, Legislative Chairman and District 8 Legislator. “I’m looking forward to a productive budget process over the next several weeks.”

Anticipated general fund revenues, excluding the tax levy, are budgeted at $66.1 million, according to the release. Sales tax figures are estimated at $31.5 million for 2021, an increase of $500,000 over the current year’s figures.

“Two of our primary goals have always been to provide a budget that remains under the state tax cap, while continuing to minimize the use of fund balance to help balance our budget,” said Finance Committee Chairman and District 7 Legislator Michael Pepe. “And in this year of COVID which will continue to impact our budget into 2021, we also have to be mindful of potential New York state budget cuts that could have an adverse effect on our finances.”

“I’m looking forward to continuing discussions with my fellow legislators and the County Executive regarding the 2021 budget to accomplish each of these goals, while also ensuring we maintain our existing level of services to the public,” Pepe added.

Ossenfort said that the county budget may need to be revisited next year. New York state is facing a $60 billion deficit over the next three years and cuts to mandated services are anticipated. However, with specifics on cuts from the governor and legislature not likely until March or April, mid-year adjustments may be necessary.

“We may have to come back and revisit the budget next year depending on what the state does,” Ossenfort said. “But, locally we are very strong, our property tax base is stable, sales tax has been solid even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and there are a lot of counties out there that can’t say the same thing.”

By Patricia Older