Thursday, December 17, 2015

Holiday Schedule for Christmas and New Year

Here is our holiday schedule for Christmas Day, Friday December 25 and New Year’s Day, Friday, January 1:

  • County Offices – closed
  • Libraries – closed December 25, 26 and January 1, 2; all branches will close at 6 p.m. on December 24 and 31
  • County Liquor stores – closed December 24 and 31 at 7 p.m.; closed December 25 and January 1
  • Recreation – all facilities are closed on December 25 and January 1; senior centers, community and neighborhood recreations centers will be closed Friday, December 25 through Friday, January 1; aquatics to close at 3 p.m. on December 24 and 31. Contact aquatics facility directly for modified holiday schedules
  • Montgomery Parks - for holiday operating schedule on Parks’ facilities, including Brookside Gardens, ice rinks, tennis centers, trains and carousels, visit
  • Ride On – Sunday schedule on December 25 and January 1; limited weekday service until 10 p.m. on December 24
  • Metrobus – Sunday schedule
  • Metrorail – Sunday schedule
  • TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) -- closed
  • Refuse/recycling pickup – no collection*
  • Transfer Station – closed December 25 and January 1; Transfer’s Station’s public drop-off area will close at 5 p.m. on December 24 and December 31
  • Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free
  • MCPS Administrative Offices – closed December 24 and 25 and January 1
  • State offices and courts – closed
*Collection for Friday provided one day later for remainder of week (last collection day is Saturday)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Coming Together for Peace

Join us for Coming Together for Peace: A Rally to End Gun Violence on Sunday, December 20, at 5 p.m. at the Old Grey Courthouse in Rockville. Responding to the recent spate of gun violence and the ongoing need for change, Montgomery County residents are saying “enough is enough.” According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, on average each year more than 108,000 people in the U.S. are shot and 32,514 people die from gun violence.

Speakers will include County Executive Ike Leggett; Congressman Chris Van Hollen; Cathy Mitchell, County resident and mother of a Gun Violence victim; Robert Disney from the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence; and Police Chief Tom Manger. There will also be music, and the rally will end with the lighting of hundreds of candles.

Remarks at Committee for Montgomery Breakfast

What a great turnout at the Committee for Montgomery Breakfast. In case you missed them, here are my remarks from this morning:

It’s a privilege to be here this morning with so many people who make Montgomery County the great place it is.  Thanks to Raymond Sherbill (Chair, Committee for Montgomery), Steve Simon (Breakfast Chair), and everyone who has put together this excellent program.  Thanks also to Nancy King and Shane Robinson (Chairs of our Montgomery County Senate and House Delegations) and to our entire Delegation for the partnership they have forged with all of us.

I’m especially pleased to be here with my colleagues on the County Council – Council Vice President Roger Berliner and Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Tom Hucker, Sidney Katz, George Leventhal and Craig Rice.  Will they and their staff please stand?  Know that they work countless hours on behalf of our more than one million residents.

I truly congratulate the Committee for highlighting economic development this year.  There can be no question that this needs to be the number one priority for all of us. Only by focusing on job growth and expanding our tax base are we able to preserve and enhance our great County services and -- most important --create opportunities for our residents. That’s why with every legislative choice I make, I ask myself:  How does my decision enhance job growth? How does it expand the tax base? And how am I creating opportunities for all our residents to be self-sufficient and successful?

Five years ago, in the depth of the Great Recession, we launched the Montgomery Business Development Corporation, a public-private partnership designed to fuel our economy.  This past year, we took that achievement to the next level. We have created a new Economic Development Corporation -- moving us from a government- to a business-based model for County economic success.  We are truly elevating the status of business and job growth in Montgomery County.  The State will be a vital partner in this enterprise.  So will our region.  Once again, I thank the Committee for its wisdom in selecting today’s theme.

This is all the more important since, as you know, our County revenues are disappointing. Here’s our reality check. The Wynne decision alone will cost us 76 million dollars in the next fiscal year.  The shift of teacher pension costs will consume another 58 million dollars -- funds that we would much prefer to devote to the classroom. Now there’s a new threat -- the potential loss of 35 million dollars in revenue provided by our Department of Liquor Control. These pressures alone could drive tax increases, and that’s without considering any new initiatives, expanding successful programs or increasing education funding.

Everyone here knows what’s at stake.  We must meet our obligations to the community. At the same time we cannot unduly burden our residents or our businesses.  But that will require all of us to work together -- in Annapolis and here at home. And it will require us to ask over and over and over again:  How does my decision enhance job growth and expand our tax base? How am I creating opportunities for my community members?

So let us join forces now as we have in the past.  Let’s pool our energy and fortitude.  Let’s say yes to economic success in Montgomery County and claim the future that our people deserve.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

On the Passing of Police Officer Noah Leotta

On behalf of the County Council, I want to extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Police Officer Noah Leotta. In the days since he was severely injured in the line of duty, we have heard so many people he worked with, and so many in the Olney community where he grew up and lived, talk about his zest for life and love of his job as a member of the County Police Department. He represents the best of our Police Department and our community. This is a sad day for all residents of Montgomery County.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Briefing on Fiscal Plan and Economic Indicators

As is our custom, we received a briefing on the County's fiscal plan and economic indicators in the last session of the calendar year. The briefing included lots of important information we will use as we start out budget season in January, including projections of a challenging revenue outlook. Get the background information here or watch the briefing (agenda item 4) here.

Request for Express Bus Service from Clarksburg

Good news for Upcounty residents: in a response to our request, the County Executive has advised us he is considering express bus service between Clarksburg and the Shady Grove Metro. We hope we will see it in his budget recommendation. Here's the full text of the memo:

December 4, 2015

TO:                 Nancy Floreen, Council President
                       Craig Rice, Councilmember

FROM:           Isiah Leggett, County Executive

SUBJECT:     Express Bus Service Between Clarksburt and Shady Grove Metro

Thank you for your memo of October 27, 2015, regarding your desire for a new express route from Clarksburg to the Shady Grove Metro. I have directed the Department of Transportation to provide to me the costs and parameters of such a route. You have my assurance that I will consider this route in my deliberations of the recommended FY17 operating budget and public service program.

Thank you for your interest in providing a high level of transit service for the growing Clarksburg area. Please contact Al Roshdieh, Acting Director, Department of Transportation, if you have any questions.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Human Rights Day

December 10 is Human Rights Day, as declared by the United Nations in 1948, so we took the opportunity to thank our Office of Human rights and the Human Rights Commission. They enforce anti-discrimination laws in housing, commercial real estate, employment and public accommodations. The Commission also promotes, monitors and enforces fair housing laws relating to access and treatment. It provides training and technical assistance in civil rights laws and addresses community conflict motivated by prejudice, intolerance and bigotry based on race, ethnicity, religion, disability and sexual orientation and promotes increased understanding and tolerance among diverse groups. Now more than ever, we are extremely grateful to this group for their meaningful work.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Grants Portal Now Open

Attention non-profit organizations: the Grants Portal is now open. You can use this one-stop portal to submit your application for both County Council and Executive grants. To learn more, attend one of these helpful workshops:

  • December 8 at 2:00 p.m.: Sidney Kramer Upcounty Regional Services Center, 12900 Middlebrook Road, Germantown
  • December 9 at 7:00 p.m.: Council Office Building 3rd Floor Council Hearing Room, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville
  • December 10 at 10:00 a.m.: White Oak Community Recreation Center, 1700 April Lane, Silver Spring
The content will be the same at all three workshops. The deadline to apply for a grant is January 13, and the Council will make its funding decisions at the end of May. If you have further questions, email or call 240-777-7935.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Council Elects New Leadership

I'm very pleased to have been elected Council president in a unanimous vote of my colleagues. Roger Berliner was elected vice president, and we will serve one-year terms effective today. Here are the remarks I made to the Council:

Thank you. I’m gratified and humbled by this election. I want to congratulate Roger Berliner as he assumes the role of vice president. Roger is a seasoned veteran of Council leadership, having already served as president and vice president as well as chair of the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee.  And this year he will be chair of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. All of us will benefit from his counsel and experience. 

I especially want to thank outgoing president George Leventhal. Under his outstanding leadership we have truly been a "Council That Works to create a Government That Works." The breadth of the Council’s accomplishments this past year has been extraordinary. I will work hard to build on George’s record of listening carefully to our community and harnessing the ideas and energy of the entire Council. Thank you, George. 

There’s still plenty of work to do, especially since we anticipate serious budget challenges this spring.  We must preserve and enhance the services that define us as a county, including public safety, transportation, the safety net for our most vulnerable residents, and our world-class education system. But the question we will need to ask ourselves is whether, as the County Executive has implied, these fiscal challenges will warrant a significant tax increase next year. 

Two weeks ago, at George’s suggestion, we started an intensive review of the factors driving the cost of government.  We know that in the last 15 years, our per capita income has grown by 60 percent, but the percentage of our residents living below the poverty line has grown by just as much. In that period our County budget has doubled, even though it was flat during the Great Recession and has only grown slowly since then. We can’t pre-judge the decisions we will make in the spring, but I really want to make sure that we base them on the realities our residents face. 

That’s why I’m so focused on doubling down on our commitment to economic development, job growth and expanding the tax base. Five years ago, in the depth of the recession, we launched the Montgomery Business Development Corporation, a public-private partnership designed to leverage the best minds, resources, and institutions with the aim of fueling our economy. 

In a natural next step from MBDC, we are now replacing the County’s Department of Economic Development with a new non-profit organization, led by business leaders themselves, to strengthen our ability to retain current businesses and attract new ones. I have high hopes for this new kid in town. We expect the new Economic Development Corporation to think differently, act nimbly and truly elevate the status of economic development and business growth in Montgomery County. That will be good for the bottom line and good for our entire community.

What else is on the agenda for 2016?  Knowing my colleagues, I’d guess a lot. You are all champions for closing the achievement gap, protecting public health, expanding access to opportunities and preserving the environment. So I am confident we will have many innovative ideas to consider. And we will do so in partnership with the County Executive and our Delegation in Annapolis. 
I’m very proud to be a part of this pro-active and compassionate body.  Colleagues, keep up the great work!  Thank you for your support today and for your support in the coming year.