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Montco Budget Holds Line On Taxes, Maybe

dollarsThe Montgomery County Commissioners are considering a general fund budget that calls for more than $398.4 million in spending and no tax hike next year, but Chairman Jim Matthews says county workers won’t like it, and the department heads will sue the commissioners. “After all the lawsuits that are going to come, and they will, I don’t see where we have a budget.”

He says he believes all department heads will sue, challenging their spending cuts.  Vice Chairman Joe Hoeffel says county workers will make sacrifices.

“This budget does not anticipate a pay raise.  This is part of the bitter medicine – a zero pay raise.”

Commissioner Bruce Castor says a tax hike is not out of the question.

“I would agree with Commissioner Matthews that we need to consider a tax increase to avoid, I used the word ‘layoffs,’ but really it’s job eliminations.”

He says residents expect county services, and the commissioners should look at every possibility to continue providing them in the most efficient way.  Matthews says what’s going on in Norristown is similar to what’s going on in Washington, but with one important difference.

“It’s a microcosm of what we’ve seen in the federal argument for the last year or so, that is, it’s grand to pass this or that, but where’s the money coming from?  The distinguishing thing that the three of us are painfully familiar with is that we can’t go to the Chinese to raise the money or the Saudi Arabians to raise the money.”

And unlike the federal government, he says the county is required by law to have a balanced budget.  As it stands now, the budget calls for eliminating more than 50 jobs, including about 20 that are currently filled.  The others have been vacant for weeks or months.  The commissioners vote on the budget in three weeks, and a tax hike is still possible.
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