Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Columbus Day Not a County Holiday

Remember, Columbus Day is not an official Montgomery County holiday. Most County services will operate on October 11. However, the State of Maryland and the Federal Government do observe this holiday, so federal and state offices and courts in the County will be closed. Remember that you will still have to pay parking fees at County garages, lots and meters. Ride On, trash/recycling pickups, and liquor stores will operate as normal. County libraries will be closed on October 11 for staff development (which is not related to Columbus Day).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

County's Economic Outlook Remains Flat

Although experts have declared the recession over, economic indicators in Montgomery County (like other parts of the country) remain flat, according to Tuesday’s briefing on our financial outlook. Unemployment in the County is currently at 5.5 percent, well below the national average but above our November 2007 rate of 2.5 percent.

This, along with other indicators like home sales, inflation and the stock market, means governmental revenues will remain weak for the next fiscal year. Right now, the County’s major known commitments for FY12 are projected to increase by 4.3 percent. However, the fiscal plan we approved in June permits growth in expenditures of only 0.1 percent. In other words, there is a lot to think about as agencies, the County Executive and we at the County Council move through the budget this year.

It is still early in the process, and a lot can change. We will get more accurate revenue numbers in November. Then in December, we will get a report from the Office of Legislative Oversight on the County’s structural deficit as well as recommendations from the Cross Agency Resource Sharing Committee. In January, we will get the final report from the Organizational Reform Commission. The County Executive will send us his proposed budget by March 15, and we will pass a final budget at the end of May.

Essentially, Montgomery County remains fiscally strong, and we will continue to provide the services that constituents expect, including top-notch education, public safety and programs for the most vulnerable. But this is a new era, and we are going to have to be more disciplined for the foreseeable future. Achieving that balance will be the topic of much discussion over the next eight months.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Montgomery Organizational Reform Commission to Hold Public Forum

Do you have a good idea on ways Montgomery County can consolidate or reorganize to improve efficiency? If so, let the Montgomery County Organizational Reform Commission know your thoughts on Wednesday, Oct. 20, at the group’s public forum.

The eight-member commission, which was appointed by the Montgomery County Council and the County Executive this July, is composed of County residents who are experienced in government, business and non-profit service delivery. The volunteer commission, which is scheduled to provide recommendations to the Council and the Executive by Jan. 31, has been gathering information in its initial phase in order to provide the County Council with a status report by Sept. 30.

The commission will ask residents to help fulfill its mission by holding a public forum at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, in the Third Floor Hearing Room of Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. Residents can sign up in advance to speak by calling 240-777-7814 or 240-777-7938. If time allows, speakers who do not sign up in advance will also be able to offer suggestions. The committee said that items in writing will be most helpful.

Since starting its work, the commission has been soliciting ideas and suggestions for potential reorganization or consolidation from elected officials; residents; business and community leaders; County and agency employees; bargaining unit representatives; and other stakeholders.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Apply for Inspector General Nominating Panel

Apply now for the Inspector General Nominating Panel. The three to five-member nominating panel will review applications for the position of Inspector General and submit a list of at least three qualified candidates to the Council, which will make the appointment. We will interview applicants for this panel on Tuesday, Oct. 19.

Send your letters of interest, including a resume, by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 13. Remember to include an e-mail address.

The current Inspector General, Thomas Dagley, has informed the Council that he will be resigning in early December.

The Office of the Inspector General was established by law in 1997. The goals of the Inspector General are to review the effectiveness and efficiency of programs and operations of County Government and independent County agencies; prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse in government activities; and propose ways to increase the legal, fiscal and ethical accountability of County government departments and County-funded agencies.

The nominating panel consists of three to five County residents appointed by the County Council. Members of the nominating panel must not be employed by the County or any independent County agency during their service on the panel.

County residents who have knowledge of and interest in assuring effective and efficient operations of local government should send a letter of interest with resume to the Council Office. There is no political affiliation requirement with the position, and it is non-compensated. Letters of interest should be addressed to: Council President Nancy Floreen, Montgomery County Council, Stella B. Werner Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, Maryland 20850.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Council Returns Tuesday

The Council is back in session starting on Tuesday, September 21 (committees meetings begin on Monday). Remember, you can get Council and committee agendas sent to you electronically through eSubscription. You can also follow the Council’s work on our Web page.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

See the ICC and Do Good Too

The Maryland Transportation Authority has informed us of a rare opportunity to see a portion of the first segment of the Intercounty Connector (ICC) up close.

On October 17, you can travel it by foot during the ICC 5K Walk/Run, all while raising funds to support Special Olympics Maryland (SOMD). The Walk/Run begins at 9 a.m. and will take participants on an out-and-back course over paved travel lanes of the ICC, beginning at Shady Grove.

To register for this unique event or to sponsor a registered runner/walker, visit Awards will be presented in various categories, and the first 500 registrants will receive a commemorative event t-shirt from SOMD. The entry fee is $25 during pre-registration and $30 on race day.