I received a forwarded email the other day that was the Greater Philadelphia Bicycle News from BicycleCoalition.org that alerted me to a story regarding the proposed county budget that eliminates several funding for Parks & Recreation and the Planning Commission and reduces funding for almost every other program, department, etc. Below is the press release from the county that was released on November 30th:
Montgomery County Commissioners Introduce No Tax Increase Budget for 2012
NORRISTOWN — Montgomery County unveiled a $389.33 million budget for 2012 Wednesday that calls for no tax increase that would, if adopted, include drastic cuts to numerous programs and services.
The proposed budget would maintain taxes at the same level for the fifth year in a row, still five percent less than what homeowners were paying on the county portion of their real estate taxes in 2002.
It would also slash spending for a fourth year in a row, but it would eliminate some departments entirely, cut spending in almost all others, resulting in hundreds of layoffs, and reduce or eliminate funding to numerous agencies that provide services to County residents.
The proposed budget, as introduced, is merely a starting point for purposes of discussion. A public hearing on it is scheduled for the Commissioners next meeting on December 7th at 10 a.m. and a final adoption vote is scheduled for December 21st at 10 a.m.
The proposed budget would eliminate $2.3 million in funding for the Montgomery County/Norristown Library and reduce the Montgomery County Community College’s funding by $2.5 million.
It also calls for eliminating the County Parks and Heritage Services and Planning departments entirely for a combined $7.7 million reduction in expenditures and reducing the Court House Security and Sheriff’s departments budgets by $1 million and providing no pay increase for County employees for the third year in a row.
Under the proposed budget, the owner of a home assessed at the county average of $168,850 would continue to pay $455.05 for the county portion of their real estate taxes next year.
The tax rate for the County portion of residents’ real estate taxes will remain 2.695 mills. A mill is $1 per $1,000 of assessed value.
Taxes are lower in Montgomery County for properties of equal market value than in any of the neighboring counties in Southeastern Pennsylvania and among the lowest in the state.
Residents of Montgomery County pay $156 in county taxes on their properties for every $100,000 in market value. That compares to $221 per $100,000 in market value for Chester County, $247 in Bucks County and $350 in Delaware County.
The email sent out by the Bicycle Coalition states:
Do you like bicycling on the Perkiomen and Schuylkill River Trails? Visiting the Elmwood Zoo?
Due a $40 Million Dollar shortfall in the 2012 Budget, Montgomery County Commissioners are proposing to eliminate funding for the entire County Park system along with the County Planning Commission. In short, the County is looking to plug a budget hole by tearing apart the County’s park infrastructure.
The County Commissioners have stated they do not want to raise taxes to balance the budget. We understand they have an extremely tough job in trying to find wise, but sustainable, solutions to reducing this deficit. CLOSING THE ENTIRE COUNTY PARK SYSTEM SHOULD NOT BE ONE OF THE SOLUTIONS! This terrible idea would hurt both Montgomery County’s quality of life and its economic activity.
No poppy fields in Lower Perkiomen Park next year. Parking lots will be closed and trails may be barricaded.
Is this the Montgomery County where we want to live and play?
The economic benefits of the Perkiomen and Schuylkill River Trails far outweigh their maintenance costs:
- The Perkiomen Trail attracts 400,000 visitors a year who spend $4.4 million in goods and services. Yearly routine maintenance cost: $45,000 (source).
- The Schuylkill River Trail boasts 800,000 visitors a year who spend $7.3 million (source).The budget proposal also seeks to cut SEPTA bus routes which are subsidized by the County and eliminate the Planning Commission (the people who we are counting on to expand the County’s trail network).
You can help, by letting our County Commissioners know how important it is to keep our County Parks, Trails and Historic Sites OPEN:
Proposed 2012 budget Public Hearing.Wednesday, December 7 at 10:00 am.
One Montgomery Plaza, 8th Floor
Swede St and W. Airy Ave
Your action is needed to prevent this terrible blow to the qualify of live of everyone living in or near Montgomery County!