Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett today unveiled his six-year Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Capital Budget and FY 2013-2018 Capital Improvements Program (CIP) that strikes a careful balance between meeting capital construction priorities and the continued need to put the County’s fiscal house in order.
The budget maintains the existing capital share for the Montgomery County Public Schools, advancing elementary and middle school projects while addressing system-wide maintenance issues. Its investments in Montgomery College leverage significant State funding. It advances approved plans for the Great Seneca Science Corridor, Wheaton Redevelopment, Smart Growth, and White Flint Sector Plan. These transit-oriented developments are expected to provide much of the economic growth that will support the County through the next few decades.
Leggett is proposing a $4.21 billion fiscal year (FY) 2013-2018 CIP budget that keeps an overall spending increase of 4.2 percent while moving forward on the County’s priorities in education, public safety, economic development transportation, affordable housing and environmental protection.
“My recommended CIP reflects the many difficult choices I made in returning our capital budget to a sustainable level of funding,” said Leggett. “We have come far in bringing our operating budget spending more in line with our longer term resources. Now, it is time to turn the same careful attention to the CIP, and this budget reflects the choices necessary to maintain debt at prudent levels. This budget prioritizes: funding for new facilities where viable alternatives do not exist; an ongoing level of effort for infrastructure maintenance projects; and partnership opportunities where we can leverage non-County funding.
“With construction prices remaining relatively flat, we are able to “buy more with less.” This favorable situation, however, is not an opportunity to spend more – rather it is critical to stay within the $295 million Spending Affordability Guideline to ensure that taxpayers in future years are not burdened with higher levels of unsustainable debt.”
Children Prepared to Live and Learn
Sustaining the quality of the local public education system is critical to ensuring the County’s long-term economic vitality and quality of life. Leggett’s budget recommendation funds Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) school construction at $1.36 billion, which supports critical public school capacity, modernization and infrastructure maintenance projects. Under the recommended budget, the funding for MCPS represents 34.9 percent of the total tax-supported budget – the same percentage funded in the FY11-16 CIP.
The budget maintains the previously approved modernization schedule for all elementary schools, opens two new elementary and one new middle school, and constructs six elementary and one middle school addition.
The Board of Education requested significant increases in funding for countywide MCPS infrastructure projects, including heating, ventilation and air-conditioning and life-cycle asset replacement. All of these requested projects are recommended for approval. The Executive believes that as our facilities age, we must invest more in systems maintenance. As part of the Smart Growth Initiative, funds are also included for a new, larger MCPS Food Distribution facility.
Leggett’s budget leverages significant state aid to support new and expanded Montgomery College initiatives, including funding for the College’s new Germantown Science and Applied Studies building and maintains the requested schedule for the Rockville Student Services building and Science West project. The Bioscience Education Center, Germantown Science and Technology Park infrastructure, Germantown Child Care Center, Health Sciences expansion, Macklin Tower alterations, Rockville Parking Lot and Tennis Court relocation, Rockville Science Center, and Science East Building renovation projects are all expected to be completed in either FY13 or FY14. Total estimated state aid for the college projects is approximately $93.1 million.
The recommended budget also includes funding for a garage and related site modifications at the Universities at Shady Grove Campus. The County’s commitment to fund the garage is intended to leverage the State’s construction of a new Biomedical Sciences/Engineering Education academic building. In conjunction with the nearby Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research, the new academic building is expected to expand capacity at the campus – particularly in the high growth fields of biotechnology and engineering. This initiative will support the County’s education, employment, and economic development goals and further the underlying goals of the Great Seneca Science Corridor plan.
Safe Streets and Secure Neighborhoods
Along with education, maintaining residents’ high level of confidence in the County’s public safety system is one of Leggett’s greatest priorities. This budget continues to upgrade public safety and emergency readiness.
In particular, these recommendations will support the replacement of critical public safety radio infrastructure, the fire station alerting system, the development of a new computer-aided dispatch system, and implementation of a law enforcement records management system. The improvements will ensure the County’s continued ability to respond to calls for emergency assistance and meet emergency response times while also meeting the Federal Communication Commission’s FY17 deadline to expand public safety channels and maintain interoperability with other local public safety providers.
For the Fire and Rescue Service, funds are included to complete the new Travilah Fire Station, new Glenmont and Wheaton Rescue Squad replacement stations, renovation and expansion of the Kensington fire station, addition of female facilities to the Cabin John Fire Station, planning for Glen Echo station renovation and sewer work to support a future, new Clarskburg station. Funding is continued for fire station life safety systems, emergency power system upgrades, HVAC and electrical systems, roof replacement and resurfacing.
For the Department of Police, the 2nd District Police Station will be replaced with a new station at Cordell Avenue between Wisconsin and Woodmont avenues under a cost sharing arrangement between the County and a private developer. In addition, the new 3rd District station at the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue and U.S. Route 29 will be completed by winter 2013. The long-awaited replacement for the current inadequate Animal Shelter will be completed by summer 2013. The new Animal Services and Adoption Center will provide humane and healthy quarters for the County’s many homeless animals.
Correction and Rehabilitation projects include detailed facility planning for the Criminal Justice Center project, which, in conjunction with the State-required Master Confinement Study, will allow the County to pursue state funding for the project.
Other public safety projects include major court and shared public safety facilities projects. The Judicial Center Annex project is on schedule to be completed by summer 2013, adding 10 new courtrooms. Renovations of the current Judicial Center will be completed by fall 2014. As part of the Smart Growth Initiative, the completion of the Public Safety Headquarters, a project co-locating Police, Fire and Rescue Services, and Emergency Management and Homeland Security functions as well as the 1st District Police Station, and the Public Safety Training Academy are also included in the recommended CIP.
An Effective and Efficient Transportation Network
Leggett’s budget includes important transportation projects that will help relieve traffic congestion and improve pedestrian and vehicle safety. The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) have forged a close alliance on transportation projects, working together to meet State stormwater management requirements. Where feasible, DOT is including options for pedestrians and bicyclists as well as vehicles in road improvement projects and new roads.
Mass transit is a critical element in keeping the County moving. A new Montgomery Mall Transit Center is funded. Through a combination of federal and local funds, 39 Ride On buses will also be replaced through the CIP. Included are planning funds for the Bethesda South Metro Station project, and funds to construct bus stop improvements and transit parking lot renovations.
New bridge projects will replace the Gold Mine Road Bridge over the Hawlings River and replace two of the existing Whites Ferry Road Bridges. Design work is also funded for the Garrett Park Road Bridge and the Beach Drive Bridge.
Three new road projects are included in the recommended capital budget. East Gude Drive roadway improvements will increase roadway capacity and enhance vehicular and pedestrian safety from Crabbs Branch Way to Southlawn Lane. Planning funds have also been included for the Seminary Road intersection and roadway improvements that will enhance traffic flow and improve safety for drivers, bikers and pedestrians. Leggett has included a new Clarksburg Transportation Connections project to fund roadway and intersection improvements to increase capacity and reduce congestion. Agreements have been reached to implement this public-private partnership.
Travilah Road, Thompson Road Connection, and Redland Road from Crabbs Branch Way to Baederwood Lane construction will be completed. Progress will also continue on the Century Boulevard, Chapman Avenue Extended, Goshen Road South, Platt Ridge Drive Extended, Montrose Parkway East, Snouffer School Road, Snouffer School North, and Wapakoneta Road improvement projects. Improvements on roads in the White Flint area will continue as part of larger redevelopment efforts.
The budget continues to increase opportunities for safe and convenient travel for bikers and walkers. New project funding has been recommended to design a shared use path along the south side of Needwood Road between Equestrian Lane and Muncaster Mill Road, and construction funding has been added for the Maryland Route 355 sidewalks project in Hyattstown. Funding has been continued to complete the Bethesda Bikeway and Pedestrian Facilities Improvements, Dale Drive sidewalk, Frederick Road bike path, MacArthur Boulevard bikeway improvements, and the Greentree Road sidewalk projects, as well a grant to Takoma Park for Flower Avenue sidewalks. Federal funding will be used to improve Maryland Route 355 vehicular and pedestrian traffic around the Walter Reed National Medical Center, the National Institutes for Health and the National Medical Center Metro Rail station.
A number of parking projects are moving forward through partnerships with private developers. For example, the Bethesda Lot 31 Parking Garage will begin construction in FY12 and be completed in FY15, providing 940 County-owned spaces and 295 spaces owned by the developer. Similarly, the Silver Spring Lot 3 Parking Garage will be completed in the spring of 2016 and will provide 152 County-owned and operated underground parking spaces.
Leggett has increased funding for road resurfacing to address the backlog of roads needing repair. Funding for core transportation infrastructure has been maintained or increased for items such as Americans with Disabilities Act compliance; the Advanced Transportation Management System; bridge preservation and renovation; guardrails; intersection improvements; neighborhood traffic calming; sidewalks; streetlights; pedestrian safety, sidewalk and infrastructure improvements; streetlighting; street tree preservation; traffic signals and the related traffic signal system; and Colesville depot improvements. The old traffic signal system will be retired in FY12, and ongoing funding has been included to provide additional capabilities and tools to optimize traffic flow – an important element in enhancing road network capacity and minimizing the environmental impacts of traffic.
Storm drain projects in the Town of Chevy Chase and on Maple Avenue will be completed by FY13 and FY14, respectively. Funding for general storm drain activity, facility planning, and outfall repairs has also been maintained with modest increases planned in later years.
A Strong and Vital Economy
Despite the sluggish economic recovery, Montgomery County’s fundamental economic strengths remain. Leggett’s capital budget recommendations support initiatives to leverage those strengths and the investment of outside partners.
The recommended capital budget maintains support for the Smart Growth Initiative to facilitate the private development of mixed-used, high-density development near the Shady Grove Metro Station.
The Department of Transportation continues to make progress on necessary transportation improvements for redevelopment in the White Flint area, maintaining funding for planning, design, land acquisition and construction of roadway improvements. Included is a plan for a new street grid system that will provide relief from existing Rockville Pike traffic and help accommodate additional traffic caused by construction of new White Flint development.
Significant progress has also been made in the efforts to bring more high-density, transit-oriented mixed use development to Wheaton. Plans have been developed to build several high-rise office buildings over Wheaton’s bus bay facilities adjacent to the Wheaton Metro Station, as well as a town square. Negotiations with a private developer and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) are underway regarding the first phase of the project – the building of a platform for staging the high rise structures. Outreach to nearby businesses has also begun to ensure adequate time for them to plan for any construction impacts and to determine how the County can best support them during the redevelopment period. Funding included in the recommended budget represents a down payment on the rebirth of a vibrant, urban and transit-oriented Wheaton.
Additional funds have also been included to facilitate land purchases for future projects – particularly in the areas planned for redevelopment. These purchases are intended to minimize disruption to affected businesses and reduce acquisition costs.
A number of smaller scale revitalization initiatives are also included in the budget. Department of Housing and Community Development projects support continued revitalization initiatives in Burtonsville and Silver Spring’s Fenton Street Village. The Focused Neighborhood Assistance project will continue to address community needs for neighborhood preservation and enhancement, particularly in residential areas, in a comprehensive and coordinated manner. And, sewer work planned as part of the Clarksburg Fire Station project has been expedited in order to benefit 38 surrounding properties, promoting rehabilitation of existing structures and allowing limited development consistent with the master plan.
Affordable Housing in an Inclusive Community
Preserving and increasing the affordable housing supply in the County – particularly in partnership with private entities - remains one of Leggett’s top priorities. This budget recommends $23.4 million in additional planned appropriations for the Affordable Housing Acquisition and Preservation project. Through these additional funds, the County will be able to purchase affordable housing properties or assist non-profit, tenant, for-profit entities, or the Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) with bridge financing to purchase and renovate properties.
Increased funding is included for sprinkler systems to make fire safety system improvements at the Town Center Apartments, a HOC-managed elderly housing complex. Funding continues for HOC public housing improvements and adds resources for a new project to improve systems at HOC-managed properties for elderly and disabled residents, financed through the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Section 236 Federal Housing program.
Healthy and Sustainable Communities
Leggett’s recommended budget includes funding for construction of a new Dennis Avenue Health Center in Silver Spring to improve clinical services to residents. The current Center handles one out of every 150 cases of tuberculosis in the entire United States with 74,700 patient visits per year and 115 employees. This compares to the 7,000 patients and 35 employees the center originally accommodated when first put into service. In addition, the Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response, Immunization, Disease Control, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Communicable Disease and Epidemiology, and HIV Services will also be located at the new facility.
The budget also supports a number of joint projects between the Department of Health and Human Services and the Montgomery County Public Schools, including funding to build a new Children’s Resource Center (CRC) on the Broome School site since the current CRC site will be the future home of Richard Montgomery Elementary School. The budget assumes that the construction schedules of both facilities will be coordinated so that more than $3 million in temporary relocation costs are not needed. Funds have also been included to support Child Care in Schools projects at Wheaton Woods, Brown Station, Bel Pre Center, and Weller Road Center elementary schools; High School Wellness Centers at Gaithersburg, Watkins Mill, and Wheaton high schools; Linkages to Learning centers at Georgian Forest,Viers Mill, Weller Road, Wheaton Woods and Maryvale elementary schools; and School Based Health Centers at Weller Road Center and Viers Mill elementary schools.
The capital budget continues Leggett’s commitment to sustainable development. The FY13-18 Stormwater Management program will increase significantly to comply with the County’s Five-Year Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit. Capital budget projects will also support expanded construction of stormwater management facilities, retrofits of old stormwater management facilities, repairs to damaged stream channels and tributaries in stream valley parks and priority watersheds, and structural repairs to County-maintained stormwater management facilities. The Department of Environmental Protection will also expand the design and construction of environmentally sensitive design/low impact development stormwater management devices at County facilities, roads and schools.
This increase in stormwater management activity will be financed primarily through water quality protection bonds. The debt service for these bonds will be supported by the Stormwater Management fee. The budget assumes $60 million in state aid based on the State’s expressed interest in enacting legislation to support stormwater management efforts in the state.
For the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), the recommended capital budget increases the miles of large cast iron and pre-stressed concrete cylinder pipe water mains repaired, replaced and protected and will prepare to extend these efforts to other major water mains. Replacement of small water mains will be increased from 41 miles in FY12 to 46 miles in FY13 and the rehabilitation of small sewer lines will increase from 22 miles to 55 miles. Also included in Leggett’s recommendations for WSSC are enhanced wastewater treatment and solids handling facilities at the regional Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant; a new Potomac Water Filtration Plant Main Zone Pipeline Project to improve reliability and reduce treatment costs at the plant; funding for the Bi-County Water Tunnel, scheduled for completion in December 2013; and support for enhanced nutrient removal at the Blue Plains, Seneca, and Damascus wastewater treatment plants to meet environmental goals established in the Chesapeake 2000 plan. Planning funds have also been included for a system-wide implementation of automated meter reading technology by 2017.
A Responsive and Accountable County Government
The recommended capital budget maintains a commitment to the County’s vital infrastructure by continuing investments to replace roofs, parking lots, HVAC and electrical systems, and elevators. Funding has been added to repair the Executive Office Building and Judicial Center traffic circle and ensure County buildings and facilities are in compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Capital investments in major County information technology systems are also reflected in the budget. In addition to the previously mentioned Public Safety System modernization and information technology projects funded in the Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery College capital budgets, ongoing funding is included for the County’s technology modernization. The technology modernization project has resulted in productivity improvements that have allowed the County to save more than $36 million. The Fibernet project, using Cable Funds to leverage federal grant funding, is expanding to 194 new sites over the next six years, providing a more economical solution to bandwidth requirements for all County agencies, including MCPS and the Housing Opportunities Commission. The budget’s support for the Integrated Justice Information System (IJIS) will facilitate the exchange of data regarding criminal activities between Montgomery County agencies, the State of Maryland, and the Federal Government. The program will
automatically exchange data between agencies and systems as well as simplify the steps needed to access warrants, criminal background checks, and other pertinent data while maintaining security.
Vital Living for All of Our Residents
Significant enhancements to library facilities are included in my recommended budget, including renovations and additions to be completed by Spring 2013 to the Olney and Gaithersburg libraries; and the new Silver Spring Library, which will be completed in the fall of 2014. Funds have also been included to plan, design and construct a joint Wheaton Library and Community Recreation Center. Funding has also been included for planning for renovating the Davis and Potomac libraries.
Leggett’s recommended budget includes funds to complete the White Oak Community Recreation Center and to modernize the Plum Gar, Scotland, Ross Boddy and Good Hope Neighborhood Recreation centers. The Plum Gar Neighborhood Recreation Center will open in Spring 2013.
The funding for the Maryland-National Capital Area Parks and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) includes support for six new projects, including: design only for Little Bennett Regional Park day-use area; a new Seneca Crossing local park; renovations of the Kemp Mill, Woodside, and Elm Street urban parks; and planning funding for a new M-NCPPC headquarters project. In addition, the budget will support requested ballfield initiatives, Battery Lane urban park, Brookside Gardens master plan implementation, East Norbeck local park expansion, enterprise facilities improvements, Evans Parkway neighborhood park, Falls Road local park, Germantown Town Center urban park, Greenbriar local park, Laytonia Recreational Park, Magruder Branch Trail extension, North Four Corners local park, Northwest Branch Recreational Park-Athletic Area, Warner Circle special park, and Woodlawn Barn Visitors Center projects. Investments in important land acquisition and maintenance of historic structures, parking lots, and trails, energy conservation, ADA compliance, planned life cycle asset management, pollution prevention, stream protection, and the Rock Creek Maintenance Facility have all been funded as requested.
My capital budget supports the Revenue Authority’s requested budget. This includes modifications to the clubhouse food service areas, irrigation, and clubhouse seating improvements for the Falls Road, Little Bennett, Needwood, Northwest, and Poolesville golf courses as well as Montgomery County Airpark improvements consistent with the Federal Aviation Administration’s capital improvements plan.
Funding has also been maintained for the Blair Auditorium reuse project.
The fiscal plan underlying the recommended CIP assumes general obligation borrowing for the six-year period at $295 million per year, consistent with the Council’s Spending Affordability Guidelines (SAG) decision this past fall. This CIP allocates pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) funding at 10 percent of the amount of general obligation bonds to be issued each year, or $29.5 million per year. Not only is this PAYGO funding level consistent with approved County policy, but it is also consistent with information shared with the bond rating agencies. The recommended CIP is consistent with responsible debt capacity levels necessary to ensure continuation of Montgomery County’s AAA credit rating. This high credit rating allows the County to borrow funds for the CIP at a low rate, thereby increasing Montgomery County’s ability to meet the needs of its residents.
The tax supported portion of the FY13-18 Recommended CIP, totals $3.88 billion, a decrease of $10.1 million or 0.3 percent from the FY11-16 Amended CIP. For all agencies, excluding WSSC, this recommended CIP totals $4.21 billion for six years, an increase of $168.1 million, or 4.2 percent. This increase is due primarily to a $188.7 million increase in non-tax supported stormwater management costs and an $8 million increase in Montgomery College support, offset by reductions in other agencies.
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The recommended CIP is available on the County’s website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/OMB.