Monday, June 29, 2015

Fireworks and Other Events for the Fourth

Montgomery County will again host two fireworks displays on July 4--Germantown Glory at the SoccerPlex in the South Germantown Recreational Park, 18041 Central Park Circle, Boyds and Mid-County Sparkles at Albert Einstein High School, 11135 Newport Road, Kensington. Both fireworks displays will begin at approximately 9:15 p.m.

In addition to these two displays, several municipalities are hosting celebrations and fireworks. Check out Visit Montgomery for a full list of fireworks and other activities.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Holiday Schedule for the Fourth of July

Here is the holiday schedule for Friday, July 3:

  • County Offices – closed
  • Libraries – closed
  • County liquor stores – open (open on July 4, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
  • Recreation – all indoor and outdoor aquatic facilities will be open as scheduled; on July 4 the Germantown Indoor Swim Center will close at 3 p.m., all other aquatic facilities will close at 6 p.m.; swim lessons will meet as scheduled; administrative offices, senior centers and community recreation centers will be closed
  • Montgomery Parks -- most Parks facilities are open during holiday weekend. For operating schedules, visit
  • Ride On – Saturday schedule
  • Metrobus – Saturday schedule (Saturday supplemental on July 4)
  • Metrorail – Saturday schedule (special service on July 4)
  • TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) -- closed
  • Refuse/recycling pickup – regular collection (no collection on Saturday, July 4*)
  • Transfer Station – open (closed on Saturday, July 4)
  • Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free
  • MCPS Administrative Offices – closed
  • State offices and courts – closed
*There will not be a “slide;” regular collection services will be provided the week before and after the holiday.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Apply Now to the Board of Appeals

Apply by July 22 for the Board of Appeals. Here's the full press release:

The Montgomery County Council is seeking applicants for two four-year terms on the County Board of Appeals. The terms of Stan Boyd (Democrat) and David Perdue (unaffiliated) expire in September 2015. Mr. Perdue, currently serving as chair, has completed two full terms and is therefore not eligible to apply for reappointment. Mr. Boyd will be completing his first full term, and has indicated his intent to apply for reappointment. Applications for the position must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 22.

By law, no more than three members of the board shall be from the same political party. These positions can be filled by a Democrat, a Republican, a voter who is unaffiliated with a party or a voter who is a member of another party officially recognized by the Board of Elections. Because of the requirement that no more than three members be from the same political party, the Council cannot appoint two Democrats.

Current members of the board include Chair Perdue (unaffiliated), Board Member Boyd (Democrat), John Pentecost (Democrat), Carolyn Shawaker (Democrat) and Edwin Rosado (unaffiliated). Members of County boards, committees and commissions may not serve on more than one such group at a time.

Members of the board receive $15,162 annually, with the chair receiving $21,429. Salaries are adjusted annually each December to reflect 50 percent of the change in the Washington Area Consumer Price Index.

Duties of the Board of Appeals include hearing and deciding requests for variances from development standards contained in the Zoning Ordinance; hearing appeals from certain administrative decisions rendered by county government agencies; and hearing oral argument on decisions of the hearing examiner on conditional uses.

The board normally holds weekly hearings all day Wednesday and worksessions every other week. If necessary to accommodate an extended caseload or continued hearings, the board schedules hearings on other weekdays. Members are expected to prepare for the hearings by reading the cases to be heard and to share the workload of drafting and editing opinions or to follow-up on investigations on specific cases. Members work approximately 15-25 hours a week.

The principal jurisdiction of the Board of Appeals (concerning special exceptions and variances under the Zoning Ordinance) does not include the municipalities of Barnesville, Brookeville, Gaithersburg, Laytonsville, Poolesville, Rockville and Washington Grove. The normal Council practice is not to appoint residents of those municipalities to the board.

Letters expressing interest, including a resume listing professional and civic experience, political party affiliation, home and office telephone numbers and an email address, should be addressed to: Council President George Leventhal, County Council Office, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850 or can be emailed to Applications must be received no later than 5 p.m. on July 22. It is the Council’s policy not to consider applications received after the deadline. After the application closing date Councilmembers will review the letters of application and select applicants for interviews, which will be held in September.

Letters of application and resumes are made public as part of the appointment process. Interviews are open to the public and will be televised. A financial statement of assets, debts, income and family property interests will be required of all applicants. Only the appointed candidate will be required to make the financial statement available to the public. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Look Out for Property Tax Scam

Don't fall for a deceptive letter about your property tax. Here's the full press release from our Office of Consumer Protection:

Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) is warning property owners not to be fooled by a deceptive letter which encourages consumers to pay $99 to petition to have their property tax assessment reviewed.

This direct mail solicitation gives the false appearance that it is from a state or local government agency, provides a return address that is, in reality, a mail-drop location, and fails to disclose that there is actually no cost for property owners in Montgomery County to personally petition for a tax assessment review.

Information regarding this matter has been reported to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Consumers who have provided credit card information or sent checks to this merchant may file a complaint with Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection.

The Maryland State Department of Assessment and Taxation provides information on its website regarding how to file a petition to have a property tax assessment reviewed.

OCP, the County’s consumer protection agency, investigates thousands of complaints each year involving automotive sales and repairs, new home purchases, home improvements, credit issues, retail sales, internet services and most other consumer transactions. OCP provides pre-purchase information to consumers, as well as speakers to the community on consumer issues.
For more information, call 240-777-3636 or visit OCP’s website at

Friday, June 12, 2015

Electronic Cigarette Ban Takes Effect Today

New restrictions on electronic cigarettes go into effect today. Under the new law, the use of electronic cigarettes is banned wherever traditional tobacco smoking is prohibited. The law, which we passed unanimously in March, also requires child-resistant packaging for liquid nicotine.

I sponsored this legislation because I'm concerned about health effects of the nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals found in e-cigs. Perhaps swayed by the belief that electronic cigarettes are safe, or emboldened by the fact that e-cigs have little odor that parents could detect, teens who have never tried traditional cigarettes are using e-cigs, putting themselves at risk for nicotine addiction, nicotine poisoning or exposure to harmful chemicals. I am not willing to gamble with the health of our current generation of young people by waiting for federal regulations. The Council did the right thing by putting these protections in place. Learn more.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Police Chief Discusses Strategies to Ehance Public Confidence

Police Chief Tom Manger and his leadership team met with us on Tuesday to discuss the long-term strategies that the department hopes will help the County avoid incidents that have turned into community violence in other jurisdictions around the nation. This was an insightful conversation, and I encourage you to take a look at the complete discussion (1 hr, 51 min) or the shorter summary (6 min, 18 sec). Chief Manger reminded us that the department is always willing to meet with community members, so feel free to invite them to your next community meeting. The chief also talked about the roll-out of the new body camera program.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Procurement Task Force Wants Your Input

The Montgomery County Procurement and Regulations Task Force, which was appointed by the County Council in its efforts to improve the County’s procurement operations, is seeking input from users of the system. The survey seeks opinions about many aspects of the system, including the complexity of the solicitation process and the length of time it takes the County to respond to solicitations. Here's the full press release:

ROCKVILLE, Md., June 5, 2015—The Montgomery County Procurement and Regulations Task Force, which was appointed by the County Council in its efforts to improve the County’s procurement operations, is seeking input from users of the system. The survey seeks opinions about many aspects of the system, including the complexity of the solicitation process and the length of time it takes the County to respond to solicitations. 

The task force is asking that responses to the brief online survey be completed by Tuesday, June 30. The survey can be found at:

Anyone experienced with the procurement system is invited to respond to the survey. The task force will use the survey as part of its study, and ensuing recommendations to the Council, on what works in the County’s current procurement and what needs improvement.  

“Our task force has met with a variety of County officials from the County Executive to the County Council to employees in County departments,” said David Robbins, who chairs the seven-member task force. “But we need business community input to recommend meaningful reforms.  This survey is focused on business community input, and asks open-ended questions to make sure we understand what is working and what improvements are needed.”

The task force is scheduled to have its recommendations to the Council by Sept. 15.

“The Procurement Policies and Regulations Task Force is doing an outstanding job ensuring the views of all stakeholders are represented in their deliberations,” said Councilmember Nancy Navarro, who chairs the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee. “This survey will give voice to business owners who interact with the County’s procurement process on a regular basis. I look forward to seeing the results of the survey and the recommendations of the task force this fall.” 

More information about the survey and the task force can be obtained by calling 240-777-7922.

The Council has also appointed another task force looking at how the minority/female/disabled (MFD) and local small business community is being served by the County procurement process. That task force also is scheduled to give a report and recommendations to the Council in September.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

County Unemployment Rate Drops

Montgomery County's unemployment rate has dropped to below 4 percent for the first time since the recession. The unemployment for April (the most recent data available) is 3.7 percent. The last time we had a rate this low was November 2008.