Montgomery County Commissioners approved a 2017 budget Thursday along party lines that increases spending by $18 million, which will be paid with an 11-percent tax increase.
Democrats Val Arkoosh and Josh Shapiro voted in favor of the $409 million spending plan, which includes $4 million in additional funding for the county college, $3 million in pay raises for non-union employees and $6 million to the county surplus.
"The County budget reflects our core values of maintaining our high level of County services, addressing long ignored infrastructure needs, and fiscally responsible approaches to budgeting including maintaining appropriate fund balance reserves and meeting our pension payment obligations,” Arkoosh said in a statement. “In addition, we’ve dedicated resources to the Montgomery County Community College, not only helping those who may not be able to afford a traditional four year college make the dream of a college education a possibility, but supporting a strong economic driver for the County.”
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Republican Joe Gale voted against the budget after railing against what he described as "wasteful spending" and "political patronage abuse that is bloating our county operating budget."
Gale said he had identified $7 million in spending that could save eliminated. The cuts included holding certain departments' spending equal to 2016 levels, decreasing the use of contracted consultants on projects like the Norristown revitalization project and eliminating two county communications positions that have a combined salary of $148,000.
"I know first-hand that the Recorder of Deeds Department does not need a Director of Communications and Outreach," said Gale, who previously worked for the Recorder of Deeds. "The employee holding this position is the former executive director of the Montgomery County Democrat Committee."
Taxes on a property assessed at the county average of $169,000 will pay $66 more in 2017. The 11-percent comes a year after the commissioners approved a budget that increased taxes 9.8 percent.