FONDA - Montgomery County department heads could be asked to prepare two trial budgets for 2013, one with a 3 percent spending decrease from 2012 and one at the same spending level.
The Finance Committee of the county Board of Supervisors approved a resolution Tuesday directing department heads, as well as Budget Officer Shawn Bowerman, to present their trial budgets at the committee's next meeting March 20. The measure will go before the full Board of Supervisors next week.
Amsterdam 2nd Ward Supervisor Jeff Stark, sponsor of the resolution, said the 2013 budget process has to start earlier than usual because of tough financial times ahead for the county.
"Just as I've said before, we usually wait until August," Stark said. "Now is the time we need to see how devastating the budget will be."
Since joining the Board of Supervisors in January, Stark has repeatedly warned his colleagues that the county faces a potential $6 million shortfall in 2013 because of state mandates and a depleted county fund balance. His resolution calls 2013 "an extraordinary budget year ... which may result in devastating cuts in valued employees and services." The measure states that supervisors want to "balance the budget for 2013 and prevent as many cuts in services and jobs as possible while still complying with New York state's 2 percent tax cap."
Committee members approved sending the resolution to the full board but expressed concern that the March 20 meeting was too soon for the work to be done.
"Can the department heads do it that quickly?" Amsterdam 5th Ward Supervisor Michael Chiara asked.
"I'd like to give [department heads] another month," Amsterdam 1st Ward Supervisor Vito "Butch" Greco said.
County Treasurer and Budget Officer Shawn Bowerman was concerned about the time request as well.
"I'd have no problem doing it," Bowerman said Tuesday. "My only concern would be whether department heads can do it by then."
John R. Becker covers Montgomery County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.