Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Caregiver grants, cell tower revenue among Rockville budget concerns

Rockville's FY-2017 budget will increase spending by 2.2% to $126.1 million dollars, but property taxes will remain the same, under recommendations by the City's finance department. Deputy Director of Finance Stacey Webster presented the budget at last night's Mayor and Council meeting.

Savings were found in many areas, Webster reported, such as in taking advantage of lower fuel prices. Other costs have gone up, including the amount needed to cover new vehicle purchases across many departments. The City is also facing a major fiscal challenge in the Supreme Court's decision in the Wynne case, which will result in less revenue coming from the state to Rockville.

Expanded programming at the Twinbrook Community Center and Rockville Senior Center, upgrades at the Swim Center, and design improvements for the Croydon Creek Trail are among the expenditures that residents will notice the most. Rockville taxpayers will also face greater burdens as a result of Montgomery County's increase in the minimum wage. Public funds of $43,250 and $50,000 for temporary employees in refuse collection and Recreation and Parks, respectively, show that County wage boost has required greater public spending.

Councilmembers Mark Pierzchala and Beryl Feinberg raised concerns over the cost of caregivers funded by the City. Not all who receive City funding are keeping adequate records, Pierzchala noted, and he suggested that for next year they should be warned that such failure may result in termination of City funding.

Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton asked Webster and Finance Director Gavin Cohen if cell tower revenue from towers at a water tank and RedGate golf course currently going into the general fund could be moved back to the enterprise funds they were meant to support. Webster said RedGate is in good financial shape, but she and Cohen said the potential of reverting the funds could be explored.

One new factor this year is that the County is demanding the City pay its property taxes much earlier. Originally, they asked to receive them by May 13, but Webster was able to obtain an extension until May 17, the day after the Mayor and Council are expected to adopt the final budget.

Public hearings on the budget will be held on March 21, April 4, and April 18, 2016.

No comments:

Post a Comment