Thursday, October 29, 2009

What Do You Think?--Transit Safety

Here's an excerpt from Tunnel Talk With Jed Millard which will appear in my November newsletter. Let me know what you think.

Sometimes it seems like crime is everywhere, but it may not be as bad as you think. National research indicates that the public perceives a greater likelihood of crime on public transit than actually occurs. This October, the Public Safety Committee held a work session on a report conducted by Montgomery County's Office of Legislative Oversight on transit-related crime. Transit-related crime is defined as crimes that occur: on public transit vehicles; at public transit stops; and in public transit parking facilities.

The most reported transit-related crimes in the County are larceny and robbery, making up over 80 percent of serious reported crimes. Destruction of property and simple assault are the most commonly reported lesser crimes, and make up approximately 75 percent of total crimes reported throughout the entire transit system. Data was also broken down by location of where the crimes were committed with 41 percentat bus stops, 37 percent in Metro parking lots, 14 percentin Metro parking garages, seven percent in Metro stations, and less than one percent on Metro trains.

The four Montgomery County Metro stations with the highest number of reported crimes are: Shady Grove, 20 percent; Silver Spring, 15 percent; Wheaton, 13 percent; and Glenmont 12 percent. It is important to note that transit-related crimes comprise only a small fraction of the approximately 70,000 crimes reported in the County each year. Will this information affect your use of the transit system?

Friday, October 23, 2009

GreenerLiving Workshops

My friends at Bethesda Green are hosting a series of four interactive workshops where you can learn, discuss and practice concrete, practical steps for saving energy in your home from certified experts in the field. A limited number of free spaces are available, so check out the GreenerLiving Workshops.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Water Quality Working Group Named

Yesterday we named ten knowledgeable and committed people to the ad hoc Water Quality Working Group which will monitor environmental issues in Clarksburg as development continues in that emerging part of the county. The group will collect information on all new and pending state and federal regulations regarding water quality, stormwater management and sediment control to analyze how these new requirements will impact future development in Clarksburg. The group also will make recommendations to improve development procedures to ensure minimal impact on the area’s water quality, formulating a report to the Council by Feb. 1, 2010.

They are going to have a challenging task because the world of water quality is changing rapidly. As chair of the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee, I know that water quality issues as a whole are complicated and are in the process of evolving further, so it is great that these folks will be able to focus their attention on working though the complexities. I’m convinced this group of experts and advocates in the environmental/water quality field will provide us with meaningful insights for our decision-making going forward.

I offer my thanks and congratulations to these newly appointed members:

Rick Brush of the Department of Permitting Services
Diane Cameron of Stormwater Partners
Irene Carrato, a civil engineer
John Cook, a Clarksburg environmental activist
Carl Elefane, a sustainability architect
Keith Levchenko, an analyst on environmental issues for the County Council
Mark Pfefferle of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission
Dusty Rood, an environmental specialist and vice chair of the Montgomery County Water Quality Advisory Committee
Steve Shofar of the Department of Environmental Protection
Richard Thometz, a residential home energy consultant

Friday, October 16, 2009

Learn More About Master Plans

Do you want to know more about what master plans mean to you? This week at our twice annual update, the Maryland-National Capital Planning Commission reminded us that planners will happily visit civic and homeowner associations to explain how the revision process works, how you can participate, and what it will mean to the future of your community.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Foreclosure Show Airing This Week

Watch Council Close Up on County Cable Montgomery this week. My guests and I discuss options for people who are facing foreclosure or who are trying to prevent a financial crisis. Rick Nelson from the Department of Housing and Community Affairs, Phil Robinson from the County’s Advisory Committee on Consumer Protection as well as Henry Williams and Richard Allen from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference join me on the program, The Face of Foreclosure.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Property Tax Credit Deadline Extended--Apply Now

I get a lot of calls in my office about low-income and senior homeowner property tax credits, so I want to be sure everyone knows that the deadline to apply for the credits has been extended to November 2. Here's some more information about the County and State programs:

The State of Maryland has a program that gives a credit against the homeowner’s property tax bill if the property taxes exceed a fixed percentage of the household income. In other words, it sets a limit on the amount of property taxes any homeowner must pay, based on his or her income. Montgomery County offers two supplemental tax credit programs. You can apply for all three programs with one application. The deadline to apply for credits has been extended to Monday, Nov. 2.

The tax credit programs available are:
• Maryland Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit Program
• Montgomery County Supplemental Property Tax Credit
• Montgomery County Senior Property Tax Credit

Who is Eligible?
Even if you have applied for a tax credit previously and been denied, you are encouraged to apply again since the tax credit programs have changed and been improved over the years.
You may be eligible for the Maryland Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit and the County Supplemental Property Tax Credit if:

• Your annual household income is about $64,000 or less
• You own and live in your home in Montgomery County
• You have lived in that home for at least six months, or will live in it for six of the next 12 months
• The combined net worth of everyone in your household must not exceed $200,000. This does not include the value of your principal residence or the cash value of any qualified retirement savings or individual retirement accounts. It does include any other real estate or investments you own.
• Only the first $300,000 of your home’s assessed value counts toward these credits
• The cities of Gaithersburg and Rockville provide additional tax credits to their homeowners under similar programs

If you are at least 70 years of age, you will automatically receive the Montgomery County Senior Property Tax Credit if you receive either or both of the Maryland and Montgomery County Tax Credits.

For more information, call the Tax Credits Telephone Service at 410-767-4433 or 1-800-944-7403 (toll free in Maryland).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Green Incubator

Last week’s grand opening of Bethesda Green’s Business Incubator was really terrific. What an innovative way of bringing high-quality green jobs and services to the County.

Through a partnership between Bethesda Green and the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development, the new incubator will provide workspace and support for several start-up companies focused on sustainable solutions, including a rain barrel manufacturer, two software companies, a community-supported agriculture farm and an energy cooperative. Space is still available, so contact Bethesda Green if your company is interested in the incubator.

Bethesda Green owes its success to its committed team of community and business volunteers that has been raising the green standard for over a year. In addition to the incubator, the organization offers an array of programs, services and opportunities for businesses and individuals, so take a look.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

County Sponsors First H1N1 Flu Clinic Friday

If you are in a priority group, you can get the FluMist on Friday. If you're not in a priority group, you will have opportunities in the near future. Montgomery County Health and Human Services will offer its first H1N1 vaccination clinic on Friday, October 9 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at the Dennis Avenue Health Center, 2000 Dennis Avenue in Silver Spring.

The County has received 2500 doses of the intranasal H1N1 vaccine (nasal spray), which will offered at this clinic. The County expects to receive injectable flu vaccine (flu shots) in the next several weeks. There will continue to be deliveries of both types of flu vaccine in the coming weeks and months.

The nasal spray form of the vaccine contains a live-but-weakened form of the H1N1 influenza virus. It is licensed for the vaccination of healthy individuals between the ages of two and 49. However, it is not licensed for use in pregnant women or children and adults with chronic illnesses. Health officials expect to begin receiving injectable vaccine shortly. This clinic will be focused on the following priority groups: healthy children from ages two to 18; healthy adults up to age 49 who are caretakers of infants younger than six months of age; and healthy health care workers up to age 49.

The intranasal flu vaccine may NOT be given to pregnant women or children or adults with chronic illnesses such as asthma and diabetes.

If adults or children received the FluMist form of the seasonal flu vaccination, they must wait 28 days before receiving the intranasal H1N1 vaccine. If the seasonal flu vaccine was given in injectable form (flu shot), there is NO waiting period.

Health officials recommend that everyone consider receiving an H1N1 vaccination when ample supplies become available at a later date.

In addition to local health departments, retail locations and some private physicians will be receiving the H1N1 vaccine as well. For updated information, check the County’s website at or call the flu hotline at 240-777-4200. The hotline is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Enjoy to Your Arts Content

Visit Strathmore at the intersection of art and life. The non-profit arts center right here in the heart of Montgomery County presents a lively and diverse program of art exhibitions, concerts and performing arts programs as well as literary lectures and events. There truly is something for everyone. I say this not just as a board member but also as a frequent visitor. I particularly enjoy events in the concert hall and look forward to Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder this month. If this concert isn’t your thing, check out the rest of the concert schedule or try some of the programs and events by Strathmore’s resident partnersBaltimore Symphony Orchestra, National Philharmonic, Washington Performing Arts Society, Levine School of Music, CityDance Ensemble, Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra and interPLAY. Remember, it's easy to take Metro to Strathmore.