Friday, May 29, 2015

Information on Common Ownership Community Collection Lawsuits

HOA and condo board members, check out this forum co-hosted by the Office of Consumer Protection. Here's the full press release:

The Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) and the Commission on Common Ownership Communities (CCOC) will host an informational session about condominium and homeowners association lawsuits regarding the collection of dues and fees on Wednesday, June 10 from 7 to 9 p.m., in the Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville. 

The Honorable Eugene Wolfe, the Honorable Patricia Mitchell and the Honorable Gary Everngam will conduct an interactive discussion concerning the following important topics related to collection lawsuits: 
  • Role of the District Court
  • Common Ownership Community Statutes
  • Fair Debt Collections Practices Act
  • Common Issues in Common Ownership Community Litigation
  • Claims and Defenses
There are more than 1,000 common ownership communities operating in Montgomery County, and on occasion, they may need to file legal action in District Court when their unit owners fail to pay dues and fees. Homeowner associations and condominium boards of directors, attorneys and unit owners may all benefit from hearing information directly from the judges who currently rule on these lawsuits.

The session is free, however, registration is requested by calling 240-777-3636. See flyer for more information. 

For additional information about Montgomery County’s Commission on Common Ownership Communities call (240) 777-3636 or visit

For additional information about the Office of Consumer Protection, call 240-777-3636 or visit

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Council to Sponsor Discussion of New Public Financing System

The Montgomery County Council will join the Montgomery County Democratic and Republican central committees at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 15, to co-host a forum on the new law that will allow candidates for County Council and County Executive to qualify for partial public financing for their campaigns. The law, which was unanimously approved by the Council in September, is the first measure of its type for County elective offices in the Washington region and in the State of Maryland.

In approving the County’s Fiscal Year 2016 operating budget on May 21, the Council added $1 million to begin building the fund that will start making public funds available in the 2018 election cycle.

The forum, entitled “A Public Discussion of Montgomery County’s New Public Financing System for County Elections,” will be held in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The meeting will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcast also will be streamed through the County Web site.

Explaining the law and answering questions about it from attendees will be a panel including Jared DeMarinis, director of the Candidacy and Campaign Finance Division of the Maryland State Board of Elections; Phil Andrews, a former member of the County Council who was the lead sponsor of the bill that created Montgomery’s public financing system; and Bob Drummer, the senior legislative attorney for the County Council.

Since 2001, members of the Montgomery County Council have urged the Maryland General Assembly to provide the County with the authority to adopt campaign finance reforms. In 2013, the General Assembly enacted a bill that enables counties to provide the option of public financing for county elective offices beginning with the 2015-18 election cycle. Participation by candidates is voluntary.

The forum on June 15 will help explain the details of the law and will provide an opportunity for residents to ask questions about it.

Under the Public Election Fund law, to qualify for public financing, a candidate must:

  • File a Notice of Intent prior to collecting qualifying contributions
  • Establish a publicly funded campaign account
  • Only accept contributions from an individual of between $5 and $150
  • Refuse to accept a contribution from any group or organization, including a political action committee, a corporation, a labor organization or a State or local central action committee of a political party
  • Collect a qualifying number of contributions from County residents: 500 for County Executive candidates, 250 for at-large Council candidates and 125 for district Council candidates
  • Meet qualifying dollar thresholds of $40,000 for County Executive, $20,000 for at-large Councilmember and $10,000 for district Councilmember
  • Limits are indexed to inflation
  • Only contributions from County residents are eligible for matching funds
The plan provides strong incentives for candidates to seek out many small individual contributors. Matching public dollars for County Executive candidates would be $6 for each dollar of the first $50 of a qualifying contribution received from a County resident, $4 for each dollar for the second $50 and $2 for each remaining dollar received up to the maximum contribution. Matching dollars for County Council candidates would be $4 for each dollar of the first $50 received from a County resident, $3 for each dollar for the second $50 and $2 for each remaining dollar received up to the maximum contribution.

The maximum limit on public funds per candidate for either the primary election or the general election will be $750,000 for a County Executive candidate, $250,000 for a Council at-large candidate and $125,000 for a district Council candidate. Matching dollars would not be distributed for self/spouse contributions or to candidates running unopposed.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Local Farmers' Markets Now Open

Stop by one of Montgomery County’s farmers’ markets for fresh, healthful produce and specialty products at locations across the CountyThe markets offer traditional items like fruits, heirloom tomatoes, cut flowers and preserves as well as many items that may be new to you. To ensure access to healthful products, many Montgomery County farmers’ market vendors accept SNAP, WIC and senior farmers market nutrition program benefits.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Holiday Schedule for Memorial Day

Montgomery County government will observe the following holiday schedule for Memorial Day on Monday, May 25:

  • County Offices – closed
  • Libraries – closed
  • County liquor stores – open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Recreation – all indoor and outdoor aquatic facilities will be open; administrative offices,senior centers and community recreation centers will be closed
  • Montgomery Parks -- all Parks facilities are open. For operating schedules, including Brookside
  • Gardens, ice rinks, tennis centers, trains and carousels, visit
  • Ride On – Sunday schedule
  • Metrobus – Sunday schedule
  • Metrorail – Sunday schedule
  • TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) -- closed
  • Refuse/recycling pickup – no collection*
  • Transfer Station – closed
  • Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free
  • MCPS Administrative Offices – closed
  • State offices and courts – closed
*Collection provided one day later for remainder of week (last collection day is Saturday).

Thursday, May 14, 2015

My Thoughts on the Budget Agreement

The Council today reached agreement on a $5.07 billion total County operating budget for Fiscal Year 2016. I voted in opposition. The budget reflects a 1.7 percent increase over the approved budget for FY15. We will formally adopt the FY16 operating budget and amendments to Capital Improvements Program next Thursday. The budget will go into effect on July 1.

While I am pleased that this budget holds the line on property taxes and limits our spending increase to 1.7 percent over last year, I remain deeply troubled by the fuel-energy tax rate. Residents and business owners will remember that we doubled this rate when we were in the throes of the recession. At that time, we promised to eliminate the increase entirely when the economy improved. To date, we have only reduced the increase by 27 percent. For FY16, we did not reduce it at all.

We have been working hard over the past several years to boost our economic development initiatives and bring more jobs, and ultimately more revenue, to Montgomery County. I am very sensitive to the cost of doing business here, and I am not willing to undercut our efforts to improve the local economy with such an onerous fuel-energy tax rate.

I appreciate the work that has gone into this budget but regret that I cannot support it. See the full press release.

Monday, May 11, 2015

My Views on the Fuel/Energy Tax Rate

We're in the final days of our budget deliberations, but there are still some big decisions to make. On Wednesday, we will discuss revenues, including the proposed fuel/energy tax rate. We raised this rate when we were in the throes of the recession with the understanding we would decrease it when the economy improved. To date we've only reduced the increase by 27 percent, so I'm asking the Council to reduce it more this year. Learn more in this video by County Cable Montgomery.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Tree House Tour de Cookie

Nearly 500 riders are registered to participate in the third annual Tree House Tour de Cookie, a 14- or 40-mile bicycle ride to benefit the Tree House Child Assessment Center. A public-private partnership, the Tree House Child Assessment Center is dedicated to reducing trauma and promoting healing for child victims of physical and sexual abuse, and neglect.

Participants will ride between cookies stands hosted by local clubs and organization. Following the ride, a community expo will be held with exhibits, entertainment and activities and families. Sponsors of the ride include the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus.

Saturday, May 2, 2015
8:45 a.m. – Opening Ceremony
9:05 a.m. – Riders Begin (14 & 40-mile routes)
12:30 p.m. – Kid’s Ride
1:30 p.m. – Best Cookie Stand Awards Presentation
Johns Hopkins Montgomery County Campus