The Board of Bucks County Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, chairman, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW, Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler and Director of Finance and Administration David Boscola presented the County’s preliminary operating budget for Fiscal Year 2017 today. The announcement took place in the Commissioners’ Meeting Room of the Bucks County Administration Building in Doylestown. The proposed 2017 budget of $415 million represents a 3.1 percent increase compared to 2016. According to Mr. Boscola, the preliminary budget draft remains a work-in-progress, which will include ongoing scrutiny and input from the Board of Commissioners, administration, courts and row offices.
“The 2017 budget cycle has been the most challenging since 2012, a year when the County faced a preliminary deficit of $24 million,” Mr. Boscola stated. “We continue to try and close the gap between revenues and increasing expenditures.”
The County continues to track ahead of budget for the fourth consecutive year in 2016, and is projected to carry forward a general fund balance of $52.8 million into 2017. During 2016, Bucks County had its Aaa bond rating reaffirmed by Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s, ratings that continue to benefit taxpayers through lower borrowing costs on current and future bond issues.
Chairman Loughery highlighted the fact that the 2017 budget will mark the 10th time in 11 years that the County will not have to raise property taxes.
“We knew over the past few years that this 2017 budget would be our most challenging since 2012,” Chairman Loughery said. “This is why we diligently took measures in previous budgets to prepare for these increased expenditures by increasing our surplus nearly $10 million over the last five years.”
As has been the case with previous budgets, the County’s Health and Human Services Divisions account for the largest portion of the proposed 2017 operating budget, or 47 percent ($245.3 million); departments covering public safety account for 29 percent ($148.3 million) of the total.
“We will work over the next three weeks with the courts and row offices to further reduce the amount we need to draw from our fund balance heading into 2017,” Chairman Loughery added.
Over the next three weeks, the Board of Commissioners will carefully analyze the proposed 2017 budget. That process will include a public budget meeting, during which any interested member of the public will be able to ask questions and offer input about the budget’s content. The public budget meeting will take place on Tuesday, November 22 at 6 p.m., in the Bucks County Administration Building Commissioners’ Meeting Room. The 2017 budget is slated for adoption on Wednesday, December 7, at 10 a.m. during the Commissioners’ Meeting in the Bucks County Administration Building (55 E. Court St., first floor, Doylestown).
The 2017 budget includes provisions for departments serving Bucks County residents such as Area Agency on Aging (AAA), Behavioral Health, Board of Elections, Children & Youth Social Services Agency, Corrections, Emergency Services, General Services, Health and Emergency Health, Mental Health/Developmental Programs (MH/DP), Parks and Recreation and Veterans Affairs, among others. The budget also provides for courts and nine elected row offices, including the Clerk of Courts, Controller, Coroner, District Attorney, Prothonotary, Recorder of Deeds, Register of Wills, Sheriff and Treasurer.
To view the 2017 preliminary operating budget, please visit www.BucksCounty.org and click on the budget link on the home page. Stay tuned to the official county website for comprehensive updates about the budget process.