Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What's In and What's Out for 2014

Out -- Low Wages: The Council approved an increase in the county's minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 under Maryland law. The county's minimum wage will increase to $8.40 on October 1, 2014 and will be phased in to $11.50 in 2017. The measure is not perfect, but I'm glad that some Montgomery County families will be able to breathe a little easier.

In -- AAA Bond Rating: All three bond rating agencies reconfirmed the County's AAA bond rating. This is good news because it allows us to issue bonds for our capital borrowing at the most favorable rates, saving taxpayers millions of dollars over the life of the bonds.

In -- Homeowner Associations: Approximately 100 people representing more than 60 organizations and 12 County departments and agencies attended my forum designed specifically for homeowner association and condo board leadership. You can see the entire meeting on YouTube.

Out -- Long Lines: The Montgomery County Board of Elections has increased the number of Early Voting Centers to nine for the 2014 elections. Early voting for the primary election will occur from June 12 to June 19, 2014, and early voting for the general election will occur from October 23 to October 30, 2014.

In -- County Council Anywhere: You can now watch Council sessions and hearings live on your mobile device.

Out -- Invisibility: Montgomery County ranks among counties with the highest median incomes. We take pride in being the economic engine of Maryland, and our schools make the lists of the best in the nation. Yet we have pockets of poverty that are not easily seen. Now, thanks to an award-winning documentary, The Unseen Montgomery, this poverty is no longer invisible.

In -- Chevy Chase Lake: After hearing from many stakeholders concerning changes to the 1990 Bethesda-Chevy Chase Master Plan, we approved the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan, which coordinates new development with the construction of the Purple Line while still protecting the character of the community.

Out -- Hunting for Information: The Montgomery Business Development Corporation has launched a new Web site that includes the only tool in operation that enables users to see available sites or leasable space throughout the County. It also features extensive demographic information to help new and existing businesses.

In -- Size: Montgomery County is home to 30 of the 100 largest publicly traded companies as identified by the Washington Business Journal. The County's highest ranking company on the list is Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corporation, coming in at #3 with revenue of more than $47.1 billion.

Out -- Smoking: There is no risk-free level of exposure to second hand smoke, so I’m glad we unanimously passed my bill to ban smoking on most property leased or owned by the County. As stewards of public health, we are responsible for protecting residents, employees and visitors from dangerous exposure.

In -- Population: Do you feel like one in a million? You should because Montgomery County'spopulation has reached the one million mark. Ours has been the largest jurisdiction in the state since 1989, and Montgomery is the first county in Maryland to reach the million-person milestone.

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