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Montco Looks Toward 2013

Commissioners say they're still dealing with 'omissions of decisions' and 'lies' built into the financial situation they inherited from the previous county administration.

Montgomery County is well into the process of assembling its 2013 operating budget, but it's still having some trouble reckoning with its 2012 operating budget.

In presenting his third quarterly budget update, county chief financial officer Uri Monson said that the county's operating deficit had widened during the third quarter, from $1.7 million to about $3.9 million. The deficit remains down from the $10 million figure identified shortly after the current administration took office in January.

Monson placed the primary blame for the third quarter increase on state funding cuts for mental and behavioral health services, an explanation with which Commissioner Bruce Castor took issue.

While acknowledging the state cuts, Castor, who has rarely passed up any opportunities to criticize the governance of Jim Matthews and Joe Hoeffel, his former colleagues on the Board of Commissioners, said the primary reason for the deficit was that the 2012 operating budget they passed was "a false document."

"The primary problem is that the budget we were given [when the former administration passed it in December 2011] is a false document, full of lies and misrepresentations that we are now dealing with," Castor said.

Castor praised Monson for having "done a good job getting us to this point."

Though the county managed to cut expenditures by almost $5 million from the 2012 budgeted amount, county revenues are running almost $9 million behind the budgeted pace. Most of the revenue shortfall is in projected grant revenues that were adversely affected by the state budget passed last June.

Board chairman Josh Shapiro concurred with Castor, though somewhat less pointedly.

"There are a lot of external circumstances relative to the national recession that are often blamed for the problems of [local] governments all around the Commonwealth and the country. I think the unique circumstances we find ourselves in here is that it was less the external issues and much more the internal decisions and omissions of decisions that led us to this point," Shapiro said.

Asked by Castor whether he saw any way for the county to pass a 2013 budget without a tax increase, Monson would only say that it was his goal to present such a budget.

Monson also announced a virtual freeze on county hiring, with no new positions opened before the 2013 budget is passed unless they are needed for emergency services delivery, public safety, or regulatory requirements.

The county will hold two public hearings on the 2013 budget on Thursday, Nov. 29, at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the Commissioners' Board Room on the eighth floor of One Montgomery Plaza in Norristown.

patrick November 02, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Jack, maybe some of my arguements go over your head, but your post has no facts either. People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
Jack Minster November 03, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Patrick, above you levied some very serious charges against Bruce Castor and your sole attempt to legitimize them is to say that you know him. Back up your insults with substance. Allow me to demonstrate what that means. Bruce cast more “no” votes in his first term as Commissioner than the previous 20 years of minority commissioners combined. Hoeffel and Matthews have driven Montgo's finances so deep into debt on their pet-project spending that our bond ratings have fallen. Meanwhile the government buildings in Norristown are in immediate need of repair, and for these and other real needs, the money simply is not there thanks to Hoeffels-Matthews. What is he doing now? Establishing a county debt limit pegged to a ratio of cash reserves to the annual debt service to prevent excessive borrowing in the future. Adopting strict measures on how much fund balance the county should keep in reserves to avoid overtaxing residents in good times and undertaking them during bad. Placing the county’s check register online Requiring five-year financial forecasts be undertaken during each annual round of budget planning Appointing a team of government, business and financial advisors to identify inefficiencies in county government Setting an example for the rest of Pennsylvania. Now. Back up your trash-talk. What evil do you claim Bruce has done to you, Mr. Patrick? Specifically. A list.
patrick November 03, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Jack, First, Castor was not a minority commisioner. He and Matthews are bothe pubs. Matthews distanced himself from Castor after Castor took extreme positions. Secondly, he has not done any of the items you listed. He may say that he's working on them, but we'll have to wait to see' Lastly, he refused to raise county taxes to improve infrastructure. He has voted numerous times to against improvements to our county seat, purchases delapadated property at taxpayers expense and has shown such poor leadership that the dems rolled through the commissioners race and some of the surrounding townships turned dem. Some of which have NEVER been under dem control. Those are facts. Your's is more like a wish-list. I doubt that they become reality
Joe Public November 03, 2012 at 01:18 PM
58 Social Services workers In the BHS/DD dept. were told yesterday that their last day of employment is 3/1/13. 2600 people with whom we had long time relationships will now face uncertainty about who will support them and help them keep find and maintain their state and federally funded services. The county employees are being kicked the curb and the consumers will have gind a new and private company to help them navigate the system. County claims this move is saving taxpayers $40,000 and elimates conflict of interest This action smells of the BHS/DD administrations ill thought plan to make Eric Goldstein look good for the County Commissioners to save his own self from the chopping block.
jxjipper November 10, 2012 at 05:16 AM
In response to Joe Public and not the other two.....Jack and Patrick you are so off point on this whole conversation take your partisan pissing match to a corn field somewhere. How is disenfranchising 2600 people with below 70 IQ's gonna benefit anyone. If the County wants to throw this population under the bus for $40,000 the we'd better become real Progressives like some of you think you are. We can now return to the Wilsonian and Margaret Sanger principles of the enlightened left calling themselves social democrats. ie "Eugenic policies were first implemented in the early 1900s in the United States.[8] Later, in the 1920s and 30s, the eugenic policy of sterilizing certain mental patients was implemented in a variety of other countries, Sanger is a frequent target of criticism by opponents of birth control and has also been criticized for supporting eugenics". Maybe we should just euthanize this mentally disabled population that's costing a whole $40,000 a year, rather than support them, yeah, that's the ticket. Round them up and drive them out to the state hospital grounds late one night. Have them dig the pits and then machine gun them into the trenches by the county sheriffs. There no more fiscal deficit. Next we do that for the County Assistance Office and WIC people and get rid of that department, then the Adults and Aging because when we get OHBummer Care we can euthanize them too.

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