Montgomery Charter Review Commission Seeks Input on County Issues
Forum on Monday, Oct. 6, Will Focus on Inspector General,
Special Taxing Districts Relating to Property Tax Revenue
ROCKVILLE, Md., Sept. 5, 2008—The Montgomery County Charter Review Commission will hold a public forum on Monday, Oct. 6, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The Commission is seeking comments on a variety of issues to determine if the current system of County government adequately addresses the needs of County residents.
In addition to general comments about the Charter, the Commission specifically would like community input on:
• Whether the Charter should be amended to allow for an Executive-nominated, Council-confirmed Inspector General
• Whether certain special taxing districts should be excluded from the Charter’s limit on the growth of the property tax revenue to the rate of inflation.
Appointment of the Inspector General
Currently, the Inspector General is appointed by the County Council and is established in the Legislative Branch. The Commission is studying whether this appointment process should be changed to provide for an Inspector General that is nominated by the Executive and confirmed by the Council.
Among other issues, the Commission is reviewing what impacts a change in the appointment process would have, if any, on independence, funding and access to information. Additionally, the Commission is reviewing what Charter changes would be necessary if it determines that the Inspector General should be an Executive-nominated, Council-confirmed position.
Relationship between Special Taxing Districts and the Charter Limit on tax revenues
State and County law authorize the County to establish special taxing districts for limited purposes. Section 305 of the Charter limits the growth of property tax revenue in any year to the rate of inflation, with some exceptions, unless at least seven Councilmembers agree to exceed it.
There are now many special districts that apply a further ad valorem property tax to limited geographic areas, including parking districts, urban districts and noise abatement districts. Although this type of tax is charged only to the residents and/or businesses within the affected areas and has restricted application, these revenues are counted against the tax limitation.
As part of this issue, the Commission is reviewing whether the amount of funding that could be excluded from the Charter Section 305 limitations should be limited. This limitation could be stated in terms of either the County-wide ad valorem property tax collections (e.g., 2 percent of property tax collections) or the total assessable land value of the County (e.g., 10 percent of the County’s assessable base).
Mission of the Charter Review Commission
The Charter is the constitutional framework for County government. Charter Section 509 provides for an 11-member, bi-partisan Charter Review Commission to study the Charter. The Commission must report to the Council in May 2010 with recommendations for possible Charter revisions. These recommendations may lead to proposed Charter amendments that are voted on by the electorate in November 2010.
The current members of the Commission are Chair Nancy Soreng, Vice Chair Alice Gresham Bullock, Michael Cogan, Karen Czapanskiy, Wilbur Friedman, Mollie Habermeier, Robert Shoenberg, Judith Vandegriff, Anne Marie Vassallo and Charles Wolff
Those wishing to present opinions on Charter-related issues, including recommendations for the Commission to study, should sign up to speak by contacting Marie Jean-Paul at 240-777-7928 or via e-mail at Charterreview.Commission@montgomerycountymd.gov.
The Commission encourages those scheduled to speak at the public forum to bring copies of their written testimony to the forum for distribution. Written testimony also may be submitted via e-mail or mailed to: Charter Review Commission, c/o Montgomery County Council, Stella Werner Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850.
The Charter can be accessed via the Montgomery County Web site at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/govtmpl.asp. The Commission’s Web site can be found at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/csltmpl.asp?url=/content/council/charterreview.asp.
For more information about the County Charter, the Charter Review Commission or for directions to the County Office Building, call 240-777-7900.