OSSENFORT RELEASES 2022 COUNTY BUDGET PROPOSAL
Plan Focuses on Employee Morale and Job Retention
FONDA—County Executive Matthew L. Ossenfort submitted his 2022 Executive Budget to the County Legislature Tuesday and is proposing a $126.7 million spending plan, which stays under the tax cap. Included in the Executive Budget, is a proposed property tax levy increase of 2.69 percent or $836,000. General fund balance usage for 2022 is $3.7 million, up $1.2 million appropriated for 2021. Anticipated general fund revenues, excluding the tax levy, are budgeted at $68.5 million.
“We were preparing for 20 percent cuts in state funding and a 20 percent drop in sales tax revenue and the opposite happened. We’ve seen growth in sales tax, the state cuts haven’t come down at the level in which we expected and we have received federal aid. We are in a much stronger position than expected,” said County Executive Ossenfort.
Projected sales tax figures are at $32.75 million. This is a very conservative estimate, as Montgomery County is projected to approach $40 million in sales tax in the current fiscal year. Development on the 5S corridor and Route 30 corridor in the town of Amsterdam are contributing economic drivers for the county and with additional projects on the horizon, and rising fuel prices, Ossenfort anticipates even further sales tax growth.
Following meetings with several of the county’s department heads, Ossenfort said it’s become clear job retention would be a major challenge headed into 2022.
He noted that local governments are competing with private sector employers, as well as the current environment in which most workplaces are struggling to find help.
“After brainstorming potential solutions to fill much-needed positions and improve employee morale throughout county departments, I have determined that titles in particularly hard to fill positions should be reallocated to be comparable and competitive with like size counties. It was important to me that I listened to the critical needs of departments struggling with job retention,” said Ossenfort.
The Executive Budget included adjustments to the salaries of Caseworkers, Case Supervisors, Nurses, Dispatchers, Motor Equipment Operator 1 and Motor Equipment Operator 2.
Ossenfort said he has been keeping an eye on the equalization rates dipping due to the current housing market, but there was no massive decrease in equalization rate for any one municipality.
“After the uncertainty we faced preparing for the 2021 budget due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, I’m hopeful our financial position will continue to strengthen in similar fashion to what’s occurred the last few years, the continued growth of the County’s sales tax income, in tandem with cost effective expense control, said Legislative Chairman and District 7 Legislator Michael J. Pepe. “I’m looking forward to a productive budget process for 2022, in which we are able to prepare a well-balanced spending plan for the public.”
“I’m confident this proposal provides a balance between remaining fiscally responsible, maintaining critical services and taking strides towards boosting morale amongst Montgomery County employees,” said Ossenfort.