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Montgomery County OKs $891M in 2018 spending, warns of 2019 problems

Published: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 6:48 AM
By: Chris Stewart - Staff Writer

The Montgomery County Commission on Tuesday adopted a 2018 budget that will see increases in spending for nearly every department and agency. But the numbers during the next budget round for 2019 don’t look as rosy, county commissioners warned.

“We can take a deep breath this year, but next year be prepared,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Judy Dodge.

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The looming shortfall on the 2019 horizon is the loss of $9 million in Medicaid managed care sales tax revenue the county is no longer allowed to collect. One-time transitional funding is allowing the county to bridge the gap through next year.

“Every county in the state and every transit authority is wrestling with the loss of this Medicaid managed care sales tax,” said Montgomery County Commission President Dan Foley.

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The 2018 budget of $891.2 million represents a $30.8 million or 3.6 percent increase over 2017. The 2018 calendar-year appropriation is $847.6 million. State and federal grants add another $43.6 million, according to the Montgomery County Office of Management and Budget.

“There are increases in every programmatic area, and those increases are driven primarily by our staff aggressively pursuing the maximum amount of grant funding that we can receive,” said Joe Tuss, Montgomery County Administrator. “Whether it’s in judicial and criminal justice, whether it’s in Environmental Services, and likewise in our social services area, it really is that piece that drives that additional $30 million.”

As required by law, the 2018 budget is balanced, Tuss said. Almost half of the budget, $417.6 million, will go toward providing social services.

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The number of budgeted positions is down 16 from 2017 to 4,366, but health insurance is coming at a greater cost per employee, Tuss said.

“We continue to really hold the line in terms of maintaining staffing levels that are consistent with the right-sizing of the organization was forced to do in 2011 and 2012 as part of the Great Recession,” he said. “Any new positions either require a revenue offset or some additional revenue to be brought into the system.”

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