Thursday, April 27, 2017

Our County at its Best

Check out this excellent marketing video from Visit Montgomery, the official tourism bureau for Montgomery County. It is a great reminder of why we love our county. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Local Ice Dancers Win Gold

What a treat it was this morning to recognize Rachel and Michael Parsons of Rockville, who recently became the first brother-sister duo to win the ice dancing gold medal in the International World Junior Figure Skating Competition. In the competition in March in Taiwan, they produced their best-ever score to come from behind and pass the then-leading Russian team to win the title. The pair trains at the Wheaton Ice Arena. See the video.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Microloan Program for Entrepreneurs

The Council unanimously approved Bill 49-16 that will create a County microloan program that would provide loans from $500 to $15,000 for County residents needing additional help to start small businesses.

Nationally and locally, micro businesses have been found to improve the economic well-being and self-sufficiency of individuals who often find themselves in low wage jobs, but have the creativity and desire to own and operate a wide variety of businesses.

The amended legislation calls for the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation to administer a “culturally proficient” program. Loans would be limited to no more than $15,000, with the expectation that most loans will initially be in the $500 to $5,000 range. Loans would be limited to County residents who headquarter their business in Montgomery County. Loan recipients would be required to participate in educational and technical assistance that would be part of the program.

The legislation was inspired by a meeting with the leadership of organizations that are currently working the most in this arena. During the meeting, the leaders expressed the belief that Montgomery County’s entrepreneurs would greatly benefit from the necessary technical assistance and access to microloans that can help aspiring entrepreneurs realize their dreams.

More information on the legislation is available at

Protection for Neighborhoods from Foreclosed Properties

Today we unanimously approved bill 38-16 that will impose a civil penalty for property owners who fail to register a foreclosure purchase. The intent of the bill is to keep unmaintained properties from becoming a nuisance to the community.

The bill will impose a civil penalty for the failure to register a property that is purchased by foreclosure. By Maryland law since 2012, the purchaser of a foreclosed property must register the property with the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation and the Maryland Foreclosure Task Force within 30 days of the property's foreclosure sale. The law authorizes local jurisdictions to enact legislation to impose a fine of $1,000 for failing to register.

The law was meant to address the period of nine to 18 months that frequently occurs between the date of a foreclosure and the date that the property title is transferred. During this time, local jurisdictions have a hard time identifying the party responsible for maintenance, security and taxes. To date, Montgomery County has not enacted any punitive fine and hundreds of foreclosed properties have gone unregistered since the General Assembly approved the law.

DLLR estimates that 20 percent of foreclosure property purchasers statewide do not register their property or register after the deadline. Based on the data from the State Foreclosure Registry, there were 1,432 foreclosures in Montgomery County in Fiscal Year 2015. Of these, 34 percent (492) either failed to register or registered long after the deadline. The unregistered properties are much more likely to go unmaintained, costing the County thousands of dollars in housing code enforcement and impacting the value of nearby property.

In addition, many purchasers of foreclosed properties—often banks and out-of-state investors—wait to record the deed to the property until it is resold to another purchaser. By circumventing the normal process and improperly (and illegally) transferring the property to a new homeowner in this fashion, the County does not receive the recordation tax or the transfer tax, which shortchanges the County of approximately $6,000 in revenue for a property of average value.

Council Passes Healthy Vending Bill

This morning we unanimously approved Bill 1-17 that will require all vending machines on County property to carry at least 50 percent of items that meet American Heart Association recommended nutrition standards for sugar, salt, fat and other measures.

The bill provides for healthier items to be offered along with chips, candy and regular soda. For the next two years, 50 percent of snacks in machines on County property need to meet American Heart Association recommended nutrition standards for sugar, salt, fat and other measures. After that, the percentage of healthy food and drink offered will be required to rise to 65 percent. Every drink machine would also offer bottled water.

Almost one in four children in Montgomery County is not able to maintain a healthy weight. This rate outpaces the national average. More than half of all adults in the County are not keeping a healthy weight.

Healthy vending legislation was passed by the Howard County Council in 2015 and will be introduced to the Prince George’s County Council this year.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Budget Overview on Tuesday

Tune in to County Cable Montgomery on Tuesday (about 10:00 a.m.) as our Council Administrator provides his extremely informative and insightful overview of the core budget issues involved the FY18 operating budget. We're conducting our committee work over the next several weeks, and we are scheduled to make final decisions May 18 with implementing resolutions to be adopted on May 25. If you aren't able to watch the session live, you can see it on demand 24 hours later (agenda item 3). Get the background information.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Students: Learn about Business this Summer

Take a look at this new opportunity for MCPS rising juniors and seniors. WorkSource Montgomery, in collaboration with Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery County Government, is offering the Summer R.I.S.E. program to provide youth with enriching summer career development experiences through local businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Students will participate in a three-week career exploration that will introduce them to the structures of businesses, technical skills for a wide range of industries, the role of technology, and the importance of customer service in every profession. Students will complete a career-readiness curriculum and learn about financial literacy through online and in-person professional training to help prepare them for college and beyond. A $300 stipend will be awarded to students who successfully complete the program. See the video.