Thursday, May 18, 2017

Council Reaches Budget Agreement

This morning we reached unanimous preliminary agreement on a $5.4 billion County operating budget for Fiscal Year 2018, a 2.7 percent increase over the approved budget for FY 2017. The budget strongly supports Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery College, the County’s public safety programs and the safety net services provided by the County and non-profit organizations. See the full press release, including highlights by departments, a link to the approved list of community grants and a link to the final list of approved reconciliation items. We will formally adopt the budget on May 25, and it will go into effect on July 1.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Holiday Schedule for Memorial Day

Here's our holiday schedule for Memorial Day, Monday, May 29:

  • County Offices – closed
  • Libraries - closed
  • County Liquor stores – all stores will be open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Recreation –all indoor and outdoor aquatic facilities will close at 6 p.m.; administrative offices, senior centers and community recreation centers will be closed
  • Montgomery Parks - Information available at http://www.montgomeryparks.org/
  • Ride On – will operate on a Sunday schedule. Information is available at this link:   http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/DOT-Transit/holiday_schedules.html.
  • Metrorail – Information available at www.wmata.com
  • Metrobus – Information available at www.wmata.com
  • TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – closed
  • Refuse/recycling pickup – no collection, all collections scheduled on or after the holiday will be made one day later in the week
  • The Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station - closed Memorial Day; will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 30. The Public Unloading Facility at the Route 355 (Frederick Road) entrance will operate normal operating hours from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free
  • MCPS Schools and Administrative Offices – closed

Monday, May 15, 2017

Gaithersburg Book Festival

I'm looking forward to the Gaithersburg Book Festival this Saturday, where I'll have the pleasure of introducing my husband and favorite author, David O. Stewart.

The Gaithersburg Book Festival is an annual celebration of great books and great writing that has made its mark as one of the nation’s top literary events. On May 20 more than 100 featured best-selling and award-winning authors—including Laura Lippman, David Swinson, J. Courtney Sullivan, Jami Attenberg, Dominic Smith, Sidney Blumenthal, Kay Redfield Jamison, Doreen Cronin, Tom Lichtenheld, Dave Roman, Sheila Turnage, Meg Medina, Michelle Knudsen, Carol Weston and more—will participate in panel discussions and book signings at the festival, taking place on the grounds of City Hall (31 S. Summit Ave., Gaithersburg, MD 20877).

Other activities include free, interactive writing workshops for all ages, a Children’s Village, literary exhibitors, food and drink, the Brew and Vine Cafe featuring live entertainment, and on-site book sales by Politics & Prose. Admission, parking and accessible shuttle buses from Shady Grove Metro and Lakeforest Mall are free.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Recognizing Regeneron Science Talent Search Finalists

Congratulations to Walt Whitman High School student David Rekhtman and Montgomery Blair High School students Sambuddha Chattopadhyay and Rohan Dalvi for being named among the 40 finalists in the Regeneron Science Talent Search and competing for top honors at a high-profile event in Washington D.C. The Regeneron Science Talent Search was formerly known as the Intel Science Talent Search and the Westinghouse Science Talent Search. Despite the change in sponsors/names over the decades, it is still the nation's oldest and most prestigious science competition, having honored the nation's most promising young scientists since 1942. Each of the finalists received $25,000 scholarships. See the video of today's presentation.

In his project, A Study of the Induction of Immunogenic Cell Death in Response to Local Ablative Therapies of Cancer, David Rekhtman experimented with heating cancer cells using a laser to prompt an immune response. In his project, On T-Reflection via Analytic Continuation in Quantum Mechanics, Sambuddha Chattopadhyay explored dark energy, looking for ways to understand and quantify it. In his project, Kinetic Trapping and Structural Determination of Native-State Biomolecules in the Gas Phase, Rohan Dalvi aided Georgetown University researchers in developing a faster and more efficient technique for gauging the size and structure of biomolecules.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Four to Interview for Planning Board

We will interview four applicants for the Planning Board on May 11 at 9:30 a.m. The applicants selected for interviews are Peter Myo Khin of Silver Spring, Tina Patterson of Germantown, Dan Reed of Silver Spring and Bruce Romer of Bethesda. This is an important position as the Planning Board serves as the Council’s principal adviser on land use planning and community planning. This means the board is responsible for preparation and amendment of the County General Plan; preparation and amendment of master plans and functional plans; implementation of the subdivision process and a whole lot more. You can watch these interviews live or on demand 24 hours later.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Our County at its Best

Check out this excellent marketing video from Visit Montgomery, the official tourism bureau for Montgomery County. It is a great reminder of why we love our county. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Local Ice Dancers Win Gold

What a treat it was this morning to recognize Rachel and Michael Parsons of Rockville, who recently became the first brother-sister duo to win the ice dancing gold medal in the International World Junior Figure Skating Competition. In the competition in March in Taiwan, they produced their best-ever score to come from behind and pass the then-leading Russian team to win the title. The pair trains at the Wheaton Ice Arena. See the video.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Microloan Program for Entrepreneurs

The Council unanimously approved Bill 49-16 that will create a County microloan program that would provide loans from $500 to $15,000 for County residents needing additional help to start small businesses.

Nationally and locally, micro businesses have been found to improve the economic well-being and self-sufficiency of individuals who often find themselves in low wage jobs, but have the creativity and desire to own and operate a wide variety of businesses.

The amended legislation calls for the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation to administer a “culturally proficient” program. Loans would be limited to no more than $15,000, with the expectation that most loans will initially be in the $500 to $5,000 range. Loans would be limited to County residents who headquarter their business in Montgomery County. Loan recipients would be required to participate in educational and technical assistance that would be part of the program.

The legislation was inspired by a meeting with the leadership of organizations that are currently working the most in this arena. During the meeting, the leaders expressed the belief that Montgomery County’s entrepreneurs would greatly benefit from the necessary technical assistance and access to microloans that can help aspiring entrepreneurs realize their dreams.

More information on the legislation is available at http://tinyurl.com/l3leg22.

Protection for Neighborhoods from Foreclosed Properties

Today we unanimously approved bill 38-16 that will impose a civil penalty for property owners who fail to register a foreclosure purchase. The intent of the bill is to keep unmaintained properties from becoming a nuisance to the community.

The bill will impose a civil penalty for the failure to register a property that is purchased by foreclosure. By Maryland law since 2012, the purchaser of a foreclosed property must register the property with the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation and the Maryland Foreclosure Task Force within 30 days of the property's foreclosure sale. The law authorizes local jurisdictions to enact legislation to impose a fine of $1,000 for failing to register.

The law was meant to address the period of nine to 18 months that frequently occurs between the date of a foreclosure and the date that the property title is transferred. During this time, local jurisdictions have a hard time identifying the party responsible for maintenance, security and taxes. To date, Montgomery County has not enacted any punitive fine and hundreds of foreclosed properties have gone unregistered since the General Assembly approved the law.

DLLR estimates that 20 percent of foreclosure property purchasers statewide do not register their property or register after the deadline. Based on the data from the State Foreclosure Registry, there were 1,432 foreclosures in Montgomery County in Fiscal Year 2015. Of these, 34 percent (492) either failed to register or registered long after the deadline. The unregistered properties are much more likely to go unmaintained, costing the County thousands of dollars in housing code enforcement and impacting the value of nearby property.

In addition, many purchasers of foreclosed properties—often banks and out-of-state investors—wait to record the deed to the property until it is resold to another purchaser. By circumventing the normal process and improperly (and illegally) transferring the property to a new homeowner in this fashion, the County does not receive the recordation tax or the transfer tax, which shortchanges the County of approximately $6,000 in revenue for a property of average value.

Council Passes Healthy Vending Bill

This morning we unanimously approved Bill 1-17 that will require all vending machines on County property to carry at least 50 percent of items that meet American Heart Association recommended nutrition standards for sugar, salt, fat and other measures.

The bill provides for healthier items to be offered along with chips, candy and regular soda. For the next two years, 50 percent of snacks in machines on County property need to meet American Heart Association recommended nutrition standards for sugar, salt, fat and other measures. After that, the percentage of healthy food and drink offered will be required to rise to 65 percent. Every drink machine would also offer bottled water.

Almost one in four children in Montgomery County is not able to maintain a healthy weight. This rate outpaces the national average. More than half of all adults in the County are not keeping a healthy weight.

Healthy vending legislation was passed by the Howard County Council in 2015 and will be introduced to the Prince George’s County Council this year.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Budget Overview on Tuesday

Tune in to County Cable Montgomery on Tuesday (about 10:00 a.m.) as our Council Administrator provides his extremely informative and insightful overview of the core budget issues involved the FY18 operating budget. We're conducting our committee work over the next several weeks, and we are scheduled to make final decisions May 18 with implementing resolutions to be adopted on May 25. If you aren't able to watch the session live, you can see it on demand 24 hours later (agenda item 3). Get the background information.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Students: Learn about Business this Summer

Take a look at this new opportunity for MCPS rising juniors and seniors. WorkSource Montgomery, in collaboration with Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery County Government, is offering the Summer R.I.S.E. program to provide youth with enriching summer career development experiences through local businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Students will participate in a three-week career exploration that will introduce them to the structures of businesses, technical skills for a wide range of industries, the role of technology, and the importance of customer service in every profession. Students will complete a career-readiness curriculum and learn about financial literacy through online and in-person professional training to help prepare them for college and beyond. A $300 stipend will be awarded to students who successfully complete the program. See the video.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Local Heroes Honored

Today at the 43rd Annual Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce Public Safety Awards, people from all over the county honored our public safety professionals for acts of valor that occurred in 2016. Honorees were nominated and selected by Montgomery County's Fire and Rescue Service, Department of Police, Sheriff's Office, Maryland-National Capital Park Police-Montgomery County Division and the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation. The event highlighted dramatic video obtained from body-worn cameras.

Congratulations to today's honorees:

Sergeant Sabrina Pirtle
Chief Donald A. Deering Community Service Award

Critical Stress Management Team, Department of Correction and Rehabilitation
Unit Citation

Police Officer III Yves Didier N'Kodia
Honorable Mention, Medal of Valor (Northampton Drive Repeat Offender)

Deputy Sheriff III Jason Carew and Deputy Sheriff II Steven McDonald
Honorable Mention of Valor (Suicide Attempt in Silver Spring)

Resident Supervisor II Alicia Jackson and Resident Supervisor III Andre Stepp
Honorable Mention of Valor (Lifesaving Attempt in Pre-Release Center)

Sergeant Manuel Saponara and Police Officer Brian Holloway
Honorable Mention of Valor (Domestic Violence in Germantown)

Police Officer III Dale Steffen
Honorable Mention of Valor (Suicide Attempt in Germantown)

Police Officer III David Kocevar
Bronze Medal of Valor (Deadly Shooting Spree in Prince George's and Montgomery Counties)

Repeat Offenders Unit (Police Officer III David Kocevar, Sergeant Brady Clouser, Corporal Jeffrey Rachael, Detective Donnie Oaks, Detective Kenneth Halter, Detective Roger St. Louis, Detective Thomas Tippett, Detective Richard Volpe, Detective Charles Bullock and Detective Dominic Dinisio
Bronze Medal of Valor (Deadly Shooting Spree in Prince George's and Montgomery Counties)

Corporal Johnny Beason
Silver Medal of Valor (Shooter in Clarksburg)

Police Officer III Jeffrey Hughes
Silver Medal of Valor (Flower Branch Apartment Fire)

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (represented by Captain William Cooke, Fire Fighter Rescuer III Enrique Escolero and Fire Fighter Rescuer III David Wakely)
Unit Citation of Valor (Flower Branch Apartment Fire)

Fire Fighter Rescuer III David Braun
Bronze Medal of Valor

Monday, March 27, 2017

Apply Now for Property Tax Credit for Long-time Homeowners

Visit the Department of Finance's Web site to get more information on Bill 42-16 that creates a new property tax credit for residents who are at least 65 years old and who have either lived in the same home for at least 40 years or are retired veterans of the U.S. military. The application form is at the bottom of the page.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Information Posted on Property Tax Credit for Long-time Homeowners

Visit the Department of Finance's Web site to get more information on Bill 42-16 that creates a new property tax credit for residents who are at least 65 years old and who have either lived in the same home for at least 40 years or are retired veterans of the U.S. military. The application form will be available later this month.