Montgomery County Budget Cuts Threaten Our Parks!

It’s out…the proposed 2012 Montgomery County budget.  Good news is, no tax increase for residents.  Bad news is, some of the finest parts of the County are in jeopardy of losing their funding or being completely eliminated!  

The proposed budget would maintain taxes at the same level for the fifth year in a row, not bad right?  It would also cut some 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.
Yes, some departments will be ELIMINATED entirely! The two on the chopping block are the Planning Commission and the Parks and Heritage Services Department.  That’s right,  due to budget cutbacks, YOUR County Parks, Trails and Historic Sites have been proposed to be CLOSED, and ELIMINATE the department completely!
The trails you enjoy, as a resident of the beautiful County of Montgomery, while hiking, bike riding, horseback riding, running or walking through the beauty of this County, will no longer be available.  The boating and fishing parks, picnic areas, creeks and river ways, camping areas, historical sites and such will no longer be available!   Not to mention, this will result in layoffs to the park officials, maintenance  and other service providers.  You may be surprised to see what services this department currently performs:
  • Manages approximately 6,500 acres of open space, including 9 parks, 5 historic sites, and 60 miles of regional trails
  • Maintains 125 buildings and structures
  • Owns/Manages 4 playgrounds, 8 dams (including the Norristown Fish Ladder) and 1 Canal Lock
  • Maintains 53,000 Artifacts and Archival Materials
  • Manages a Living Collection of Wildlife and Farm Animals
  • Offered almost 150 Programs and Events in 2011

Montgomery County has a budget deficit of $ 40+ million dollars. I understand that we do not need to raise taxes in this economy and I sympathize with the County Commissioners as they have an extremely tough job trying to find an amicable solution to solve the budget issues.  However, closing the trails, parks, and open space that was paid for already by the residents, because they cannot afford to maintain it seems a bit unacceptable to me.

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.  It will be held on the 8th Floor of One Montgomery Plaza Building, in downtown Norristown (Swede St.).  If you do not agree with the proposed budget, I highly suggest that you have your voice heard.  Click here to view the proposed budget and proposed reductions.  While there, feel free to leave your comments for the Commissioners to view.  Let’s keep the most beautiful areas of the County available for all to enjoy!

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