Montco Budget Has Big Shortfall

Montgomery County’s 2010 budget calls for nearly $404 million in spending, but it identifies only $393 million in revenue, leaving an $11 million gap which must be closed.

Chief Financial Officer Randy Schaible says they have a few choices.

“We are anticipated to end 2009 with a fund balance of $46 million, so we have several options to reduce the $11 million difference.  One would be using fund balance, one would be more cost savings from our departments, and another option would be a tax increase.”

The county commissioners have taken both a tax increase and employees pay raises off the table, so more spending cuts are needed, but he says the pension fund is in good shape.

“I don’t want anybody to have any concerns about whether they’re going to get a pension in the future.  It’s extremely strong, and there should be no fear there.”

Layoffs are possible, and county employees will pay part of their health insurance premiums.  Commissioners Chairman Jim Matthews says the county will also pay more for health care because eleven companies turned down their requests for coverage proposals.

“The County of Montgomery will, as of January first 2010, provide health care insurance for its employees through the county budget and be self-insured for health care insurance for the first time, by necessity since no one will insure us.”

Matthews says employee contributions to health insurance should be about three percent, but they could be more or less depending on several factors, including the plan they choose.  Employee co-payments will also increase for some services.  Blue cross will manage the plans, but the county has to pay claims from its budget, which will be up for final approval on December 21.