Montgomery County began discussions regarding its fiscal year 2021-22 budget and the factors to keep in mind moving forward during an April 13 meeting.
Montgomery County Budget Officer Amanda Carter said the goal is to have a balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
Carter said some of the factors in her report include the county’s population growing by around 25,000 from last year and the unemployment rate is at 7.8% as of February 2021.
“We expect this to be a lean budget year,” Carter said. “Personnel requests will go through a comprehensive vetting process. Just because you ask for a position does not necessarily mean you are going to get it.”
Carter added departmental operating increases are being asked to be limited to contract and statute changes throughout the year, with any other changes needing to be justified. All capital requests will be prioritized against other departments, and coronavirus requests, such as masks and gloves, are being asked to be presented separately as departments need.
Commissioners struck down a motion 3-2 to set the expectation for a no-new-revenue tax rate for the budget.
Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack, who proposed the initial motion, said the county knows the amount of revenue that was collected last year and can have a good idea of what is going to be needed going forward.
“I think we need to provide direction,” Noack said. “Without clear and concise direction, [the budget office] is going to spend a lot of time and energy needlessly entertaining things the court may not have any interest for.”
Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley said he was against wanting a no-new-revenue budget due to how early in the process the meeting was.
“We do not know the rate or the budget yet,” Riley said. “It is too early to do that. I wanted to do that last year ... we do not know what the effective tax rate would be; we do not know what the revenues will be.”
Moving forward, citizens are encouraged to voice their input for the budget through either email or attending budget workshops July 27 and Aug. 21. The first county budget workshop is scheduled for July 27.