NORRISTOWN, PA – The Montgomery County Board of Commissioners
today approved the 2021 Budget and Five-year Capital Improvement Plan during their regularly scheduled Commissioners meeting held virtually. This budget continues the County’s commitment to invest in its workforce, infrastructure, and the delivery of services to Montco residents.
Dr. Valerie A. Arkoosh, Chair and Kenneth E. Lawrence, Vice Chair of the Montgomery County Commissioners voted in favor of the budget. Commissioner Joseph C. Gale voted against it.
“As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, the County’s finances remain impacted and future financial assistance uncertain,” said Dr. Valerie A. Arkoosh, Chair of the Montgomery County Commissioners. “The 2021 budget continues to invest in the core functions of County government and provides a dedicated funding source to the Montgomery County Community College. This budget also gives us the flexibility to continue to serve Montgomery County constituents as the pandemic continues and we prepare for vaccine distribution.”
“This budget continues our commitment to the pension fund and fixing the County’s aging infrastructure,” said Kenneth E. Lawrence, Jr., Vice Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. “In 2021, we will have 20 active bridge projects in design, three underway in construction, and ten anticipated to begin construction. The capital budget also includes $14.5 million dollars over five years to maintain and improve our parks, trails, and historic sites.”
Highlights of the approved Montgomery County 2021 Budget and Capital Improvement Plan include:
- A dedicated funding source to the Montgomery County Community College.
- New staff for the Court’s new pre-trial division and supervision service division supporting the County’s criminal justice reform efforts.
- New permanent staff in the Voter Services Office to support increased service levels.
- Funding to allow all full time and part-time employees at the County to earn a living wage of at least $15 per hour.
- $16.5 million to strengthen the County’s pension fund, representing 89 percent of the annual required contribution.
- Level funding to core partners including Montgomery Child Advocacy Project, Montgomery County-Norristown Public Library, Penn State Extension, Pottstown Area Regional Transit, SEPTA, and Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.
- New Real Estate Tax Deferral Program for eligible households of age 65 or higher and annual income less than $35,000.
- Funding to support 20 active bridge and road repaving projects in design, three under construction, and 10 anticipated to begin construction in 2021. This includes Moyer Road Bridge, Davis Grove Road Bridge, and Swamp Pike Bridge over Swamp Creek.
- $14.5 million dollars over five years to maintain and improve parks, trails, and historic sites.
The 2021 Budget presents a balanced approach to allow Montgomery County to manage through the next year and beyond. Overall, revenues are estimated at $455 million, or 8.4 percent higher than the 2020 budget. Expenditures are estimated at $461.6 million, or 7.7 percent higher than the 2020 budget.
The 2021 proposed Capital Improvement Program includes $127 million in County funding to continue moving forward with the County Campus Redevelopment Plan
, which includes completing the One Montgomery Plaza façade replacement project and the design and construction of a new County Justice Center creating jobs and procurement opportunities for local firms.
County Real Estate taxes were last raised in 2017 and have remained flat for three consecutive years. To balance the County budget, which is required by law for county governments, the County approved a planned $6.7 million drawdown of its fund balance paired with a five percent real estate tax increase on the County portion of the property tax.
The five percent real estate tax increase, which equates to $29 dollars per year for the average homeowner, will provide $10.5 million in new real estate tax revenue. This brings the projected fund balance to $88.9 million, or 19.5 percent of the 2021 projected revenue, keeping the County in a stable financial position during these uncertain times.
The general fund reserve provides a safeguard against revenue shortfalls or unanticipated expenditures, contributing to a stable tax rate. The plan also uses County dollars to leverage state and federal grant funding to continue the implementation of Montco 2040: A Shared Vision, the County’s Comprehensive Plan
Because of the Montgomery County’s sound financial practices, Moody’s Investors Service reaffirmed the County’s AAA bond rating in 2019, which enables the County to borrow money at the lowest interest rates possible, leaving more dollars to invest in critical infrastructure repairs and improvements that benefit the residents and businesses of Montgomery County. The County is planning to issue general obligation bonds (Series A and B) in January 2021, which will provide funding for the 2021 capital projects, including the Justice Center and Road and Bridges projects.