County Executive Ike Leggett has praised the County Council for approving the “Emergency Medical Transportation Insurance Reimbursement Act” during its May 15 session.
Under the act, the County would recover approximately $18 million a year in Emergency Medical Services costs from insurers and the government at no cost to County residents -- whether or not they have health insurance. County residents would not even get a bill.
Currently, all costs for the County Fire & Rescue Service are borne entirely by County taxpayers.
Leggett said, “This legislation will help strengthen our Fire & Rescue Service and is good for the taxpayers. I want to thank the career and volunteer Fire & Rescue personnel who have written to me and spoken out in favor of this legislation.
"The Montgomery County League of Women Voters recommended approval of the legislation, in addition to the Western Montgomery Citizens Advisory Board and the Montgomery Democratic Party that overwhelmingly supported the legislation. The latter two groups had previously opposed the law. Other groups in the County also weighed in to support it once they had the chance to fully evaluate the law on its merits.
“The State of Maryland has recently decided to shift to Montgomery County what could very well be more than $400 million over 10 years in state teacher pension costs,” Leggett said. “The State has also approved a new ‘Maintenance of Effort’ law on school funding that could force us to add millions more to our reserves each year above and beyond what we already do.
“These are changed circumstances of monumental significance, ones that were not before the voters in 2010 when the referendum on the County’s EMS reimbursement program occurred,” Leggett noted.
“I believe,” the Executive said, “the evidence is clear that either you allow the County to request reimbursement from insurance companies and the federal government from premiums already paid to them -- just as nearly every other jurisdiction in the region does – or you raise taxes, or you cut services already reduced severely over the past five years.”
“Since 2010, Anne Arundel County in Maryland and Prince William County in Virginia have joined nearly everybody else in the region in authorizing insurance reimbursement – collecting millions of dollars with no evidence of adverse effects,” said Leggett. “Montgomery County should do the same.”
This legislation is different from the law before the voters in 2010 in several important ways. This version:
- Specifies that County residents pay no out-of-pocket expenses relating to any County EMS transport;
- Prohibits Fire & Rescue Service personnel who respond to a request for emergency transport from seeking any insurance information from those being served;
- Establishes an Emergency Medical Services Patient Advocate in the Office of Consumer Protection;
- Requires the Fire Chief to report on a semi-annual basis to the County Executive and County Council on implementation of the Act; and
- Requires a broad public education campaign as the program is implemented, especially focused on “New American” communities and County seniors.
“The proceeds from the insurance reimbursements would go to help strengthen our Fire & Rescue Service," Leggett explained. “And, of course, our Fire & Rescue Service will continue to serve all in need, regardless of ability to pay -- just like before.”
Get more information about the “Emergency Medical Transportation Insurance Reimbursement Act.”
Read Councilmember Riemer’s letter of support.
Montgomery County Council Approves Emergency Medical Transportation Insurance Reimbursement Law (pdf)
The Montgomery County Council has unanimously reached tentative agreement on a $4.6 billion total County operating budget for Fiscal Year 2013 which reflects a 5.6% increase over the approved FY12 budget.
In summary, priorities cited are Schools, Montgomery College, Public Safety and a ‘Safety Net.’ Property taxes are below the Charter limit, and there is a $692 tax credit for homeowners. Library funding and Police staffing are both increased, while the Energy Tax increase is reduced by 10%.
The Council is scheduled to formally adopt the FY13 operating budget and the Fiscal Years 2013-18 six-year Capital Improvements Program on May 24.
The budget becomes effective July 1.
See details on the budget.
Read Council President Berliner’s comments on the budget.
View President Berliner’s reaction on YouTube.
In response to Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s proposal to shift half the cost of teacher and other pensions from the state to the counties, the County Council issued the following statement:
“Maryland's counties and school systems face a serious problem in Annapolis right now. Governor O'Malley has proposed shifting half the cost of teacher and other pensions from the state to the counties. The County Council, County Executive Ike Leggett and Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), as well as our employee organizations and our counterparts throughout the state, strongly oppose this shift. As Board of Education President Shirley Brandman said on Feb. 14, the shift ‘will have an immediate negative impact on the important services that our local governments provide.’
"For Montgomery County, the proposed pension shift would cost $47 million in Fiscal Year 2013 and $315 million over the next five years. The measures proposed to help counties pay the cost are inadequate and may not be enacted in any event.
"How much is $47 million? It pays for the jobs of nearly 500 teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other vital County personnel. It is more than the County's general fund budgets for housing, transportation, and environmental protection combined. Our entire budget for libraries is less than $30 million.
"The recessionary County budgets of the past three years required painful cuts that have seriously affected our residents and employees alike. For the coming year, we face a further budget gap of $135 million and more hard decisions. If we now have to absorb another large burden from the state, there will be real damage to all our vital services -- our schools, college, police, fire and rescue, safety net, libraries, parks, housing, transportation, recreation and many others.
"We understand that the state, too, must balance its budget and faces hard choices. But it is the state that sets the basic structure of pension benefits. In 2006 the state raised pension benefits by 29 percent, retroactive to 1998, but failed to provide sufficient funding. In fact, the state's financial support for the pension fund has fallen short for many years. Counties should not be asked to assume financial responsibility for costs not of their making. We have cut services to the bone, and we have reached our limit on taxes.
"Elected officials and concerned organizations throughout the state, including the Maryland Association of Counties, the school community and employee organizations have joined together to convey this message to the Governor and the General Assembly. The coalition's web address is www.stoptheshiftmd.com/. There you can learn how to make a difference.
"The General Assembly will make its decision on the pension shift soon, probably by mid-March. The stakes for all our County residents are very high."
CATEGORIES: County Council
POSTED: Thursday, March 01, 2012 | 8:00:00 AM
County Negotiates Three-Year Contract with County’s General Government Workers
A $2,000 bonus and a 3% longevity increase for individuals with 21 or more years of service would be coming to County employees under the tentative three-year agreement reached between the County and UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO (United Food and Commercial Workers International Union/Montgomery County Government Employees Organization) covering 5,000 of the County’s general government workers. The contract calls for no cost-of-living increase and no steps or incentives for County employees.
The pact also:
- Establishes a path toward health care cost containment and sustainability; and
- Creates a process for consideration of “hybrid” pensions to blend the stability of Defined Benefits and the cost predictability of Defined Contribution plans without increasing costs to the County.
The agreement must be ratified by the MCGEO members and approved by the County Council.
Contracts have been completed, as well, with the Police and Firefighters’ unions, pending ratification by union members.
WSSC Seeks County Residents to Serve on Customer Advisory Board
The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) is looking for Montgomery County residential customers of WSSC to serve on their Customer Advisory Board that provides input to the commission’s staff on policies and programs.
Meetings are held the second Wednesday of each month from 7 to 9 p.m. at WSSC’s offices in Laurel.
For more information, contact WSSC at 301-206-8233 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Start of Construction for Olney Library Marked with Community Event
A ceremony marking the start of construction for the Olney Library renovation project was held on February 26. Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, Montgomery County Public Libraries Director Parker Hamilton and Department of General Services Director David Dise greeted attendees and offered brief remarks.
The library renovation is expected to take about 18 months and will expand the 16,825 square-foot structure by 4,260 square feet, replace the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system; bring all building systems up to building and energy codes; replace the windows and doors; install a new roof and new interior finishes; improve pedestrian safety and walkways; and improve exterior lighting and stormwater management.
The renovation will provide an expanded children’s room, new teen space, group study rooms and a children’s program room. The number of tables and chairs will be increased and all seating upgraded to include access to electric outlets for use of electronic devices.
During the renovation, a “kiosk library” will be located at the Longwood Recreation Center, 19300 Georgia Ave., Brookeville.
The kiosk will open in March and operate from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. It will be closed on Fridays and Sundays.
Project updates will be available on the Department of General Services website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/neighborhoodprojects and the Library Department’s website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/library (click on the Building Projects link).
Comments and questions may also be sent to Ask-a-Librarian at email@example.com.
New Video Presents Bethesda Lifestyle: “A Big City in a Small Town”
The advantages of living, working, relaxing and getting around in downtown Bethesda are featured in a new video presented by the Bethesda Urban Partnership.
The 11 ½-minute video includes the many unique and independently owned and operated shops and restaurants, as well as the exciting visual and performing arts and public transportation options available to residents and visitors.
Downtown Bethesda’s beautifully maintained landscaping, vibrant street scenes and architecture are featured, as well. Local residents and business people talk about the amenities that enhance the community for people of all ages and interests.
“Bethesda’s outstanding mix of shops, neighborhoods and services -- all in walking distance to Metro -- make it the perfect place to live and for business,” said Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Director Ken Hartman.
Watch the video and see for yourself what Ken is talking about.
Businesses Take Note: It’s Easy Being Green
Montgomery County is celebrating the two-year anniversary of the Green Business Certification Program, launched through a partnership between the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce (MCCC) and Montgomery College.
The program helps County businesses by providing them with a “greenprint” for introducing sustainability into their day-to-day operations and supply chain decisions.
To become a certified green business, an organization must demonstrate its commitment to environmental stewardship, conservation of energy and water, carbon footprint reduction, waste reduction, and recycling and environmentally responsible purchasing.
Among the 35 organizations certified so far are a bank, IT consultant, religious institution, beverage company, orthodontist, furniture company and international hotel chain. Also included are a law firm, accounting firms, non-profit organizations, and an architect, engineering firm and defense contractor.
Montgomery College provides on-going courses to assist businesses in “going green” so they can get certified. While not required for certification, many businesses have found the courses to be extremely helpful in getting started.
For information about Montgomery College’s Green Business Certification Crash Course, as well as other sustainability courses, go to “Green Training Programs” in their Schedule of Noncredit Classes at Here.
For more about the Green Business Certification Program, visit http://mcgreenbiz.org/.
County Councilmembers Roger Berliner (Dist. 1) and Nancy Navarro (Dist. 4) were recently unanimously elected by the Council to serve as president and vice president respectively. Both will serve one-year terms.
President Berliner was elected to the Montgomery County Council in November 2006 and was re-elected in November 2010. He represents the Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Potomac areas. He also serves as the Council’s representative to the County’s Sustainability Working Group and Green Economic Task Force. Regionally, he serves on the Washington Regional Board of Directors of the Council of Governments, where he is an active member of the Climate, Energy and Environment Policy Committee.
Vice President Navarro was elected to represent District 4 in a special election in May 2009 and was re-elected in the general election of November 2010. She chairs the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy (GO) Committee and serves on the Health and Human Services Committee. Prior to her election to the Council, Councilmember Navarro served on the Montgomery County Board of Education, where she was twice elected president (2006 and 2008). She was appointed to the Board of Education in October 2004 to fill the term of the vacant District 5 seat. In November 2006, she was elected to a full four-year term. She was a member of the board's Strategic Planning Committee and chaired the Communications and Public Engagement Committee.
Read the complete text of President Berliner’s speech.
CATEGORIES: County Council
POSTED: Friday, December 09, 2011 | 7:00:00 AM
As part of its efforts to find out what issues most concern residents, the County Council will next focus on what is on the mind of younger residents at its second Town Hall Meeting for Students on Wednesday, Oct. 12, at the Council Office Building (COB), 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The meeting, to be held in the Council's Third Floor Hearing Room, will start at 7 p.m. A pre-meeting reception will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the building's second-floor cafeteria.
The COB is about a three-block walk from the Rockville Metrorail station, which also is a main stopping point for many RideOn bus lines. Students driving to the meeting can park free in the Council parking garage (use the Fleet St. entrance).
The meeting is open to public and private high school, middle school and elementary school students from around the County. It will be broadcast live on County Cable Montgomery (CCM -- Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) and rebroadcast at various times in the following weeks.
Students attending the meeting are asked to RSVP by calling 240-777-7931.
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett recently led a local delegation to the Department (State) of Morazán, El Salvador, meeting with government officials and signing a “Sister City” agreement under the guidelines of Sister Cities International.
During the Montgomery “Sister City” delegation’s visit to Morazán province in El Salvador, County Executive Ike Leggett joins Morazán governor Miguel Ventura (at left in photo), former Congresswoman Connie Morella and County Councilmember George Leventhal (at right) in lighting candles at the village of El Mozote, where 1,200 unarmed men, women, and children were massacred by an elite U.S.-trained Salvadoran army unit in 1981
The delegation of about 70 individuals, all of whom paid all their own expenses, met with people from the local communities, visited schools, organizations, and historic places, and engaged in community projects. The mission was designed to foster cooperation between the two jurisdictions on a people-to-people basis and to support ongoing work by Salvadorans living in the County to assist development projects in their home country.
“It is estimated that 50,000 Montgomery County residents hail from El Salvador,” noted Leggett. “This trip gave all who participated a unique perspective on the situation in their homeland. It opens up opportunities for Montgomery County residents to collaborate with the residents of Morazán -- to learn and to lend a hand.”
Members of the delegation were: Leggett and his wife, Catherine; former U.S. Congresswoman Connie Morella; Montgomery County Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez; County Councilmember George Leventhal; Public Information Director Patrick Lacefield; Silver Spring Regional Services Director Reemberto Rodriguez; Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Kathleen Boucher; Office of Community Partnerships Director Bruce Adams; County Latino Liaison Karla Silvestre; and Recreation Department Director Gabe Albornoz.
In addition to the County representatives, 11 individuals represented Montgomery County’s Habitat for Humanity. They helped build a home for an impoverished family in the town of Jocoro, the first of 38 planned in Morazán by the group. Montgomery “MoverMoms” -- a group of mothers and their children, ages 9 to 17 -- spent the week performing community service at a school and a Centro Materno in the town of Perquin. Members of two of the Salvadoran hometown associations traveled with the group to support their communities -- the Guatajiagua Association, which purchased land to build a training center in Guatajiagua, and the Joateca Association, which has helped to build a multi-purpose community center in Joateca.
The delegation with Montgomery Habitat for Humanity volunteers, outside Joateca, Morazán.
To learn more about the trip and see many more photos, visit http://montgomerycountymd.gov and click on the El Salvadoran icon in the list at the center of the page.
In her remarks following the swearing in of the new County Council, President Nancy Floreen urged the 17th Council to find increasing ways to get more people involved in local government. Here are the complete remarks of Council President Nancy Floreen:
CATEGORIES: County Council
POSTED: Tuesday, December 21, 2010 | 4:00:00 AM
At a public hearing in Rockville late last month, County Executive Ike Leggett provided his perspective on the frequent and extensive power outages in the Montgomery County portion of the Pepco service area. Below is an excerpt from that testimony.
“I recently met with Pepco Holdings, Inc. Chairman Joseph Rigby and expressed my concerns and frustration regarding the frequent and extensive outages. I impressed to him and his senior executives the importance of developing a more stable and reliable electricity service in the County. In short, I emphasized the following four major concerns:
- Pepco’s contracting and operational procedures and practices for bringing additional resources to bear in emergency situations need reconsideration;
- Pepco’s preventive maintenance and tree trimming programs need review and revision;
- Pepco’s inability to effectively communicate useful and accurate information in a timely manner to customers; and
- Practices regarding coordinating activities with the County under emergency conditions needs improvement.
I further advised him that I am committed to working with him, and anyone else with a stake in this issue, to correct these shortcomings. Click here for full text.
The Montgomery County Council has named eight people to the new Montgomery Organizational Reform Commission. The commission, composed of County residents who are experienced in government, business or non-profit service delivery, will help guide the County toward creating efficient models for providing services and operations.
The group recommend potential reorganization or consolidation of functions performed by County government and County-funded agencies. The resolution’s chief sponsor on the Council was Councilmember Roger Berliner, who worked with County Executive Ike Leggett toward creation of the commission.
The Council and County Executive each designated four members to serve on the commission and each recommended one member as co-chair.
Serving as co-chairs are Vernon H. Ricks, Jr., of Potomac, a former Takoma Park City Councilmember who has served on the boards of directors of Maryland Municipal League and the National League of Cities, and Richard Wegman of Bethesda, the former chief counsel and staff director of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Governmental Affairs. Ricks was recommended by the Council and Wegman was Leggett’s choice. Read more.
CATEGORIES: County Council
POSTED: Tuesday, August 17, 2010 | 4:00:00 AM
By County Executive Ike Leggett & Council President Nancy Floreen
The Great Recession has wreaked havoc on state and local governments nationwide, and Montgomery County is no exception. Plummeting revenues have forced many painful choices including pay freezes, furloughs, service reductions, and increased taxes.
This may be a “wake-up call” for some local jurisdictions – but not to Montgomery. The work of putting Montgomery’s fiscal house in order – cutting unsustainable spending trends and responding to the economic downturn – began several years ago.
But times remain tough, and in just the past two months we have taken five more decisive steps to meet our fiscal challenges.
Step 1. We passed a County budget unlike any other in County history. For the fiscal year that started July 1, the Executive Branch and the County Council closed a budget gap of nearly $1 billion, or about one-fourth of our total budget. We reduced overall spending by 4.5 percent, the first year-over-year decline in four decades. While this required a pay freeze and furloughs for our employees, as well as service reductions for our residents, we preserved our highest priority services in education, public safety, and the needs of our most vulnerable. We kept property taxes at the Charter limit, providing a $692 credit to all owner-occupied homes. The higher taxes we did approve, on energy and wireless phones, were just 17 percent of our total gap-closing plan. They were a last resort in order to avoid even more crippling cuts in critical services.
Step 2. We strengthened County reserve funds, which fell sharply as the recession deepened. Our new policy will gradually raise reserves to 10 percent of adjusted governmental revenue, greatly improving our ability to handle future downturns and confirming the historical excellence of our financial management.
Step 3. We pulled together all our agencies -- Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery College, the Park and Planning Commission, County Government, Housing Opportunities Commission, and WSSC -- to aggressively seek savings from joint interagency efforts in technology, utilities, benefits, procurement, facilities management, and other areas. We’ve also asked an expert group of County residents to propose more efficient and innovative ways to deliver County services.
Step 4. We are reexamining the County’s structural budget challenges by analyzing the “cost drivers” that create spending pressures and the policy options to address them.
Step 5. We approved a six-year fiscal plan that outlines the spending limits needed to achieve balanced annual budgets. This will help us prevent future budget gaps and lessen the impact of severe downturns. It marks a new era in the County’s fiscal stewardship.
All these steps will help make us leaner, more productive, and better able to meet the needs of our one million residents. We have also taken important steps to expand the County’s tax base by approving the White Flint Sector Plan, the Great Seneca Science Corridor Master Plan, the nation’s first local biotech tax credit, and a new Montgomery Business Development Corporation.
Already these moves are bearing fruit. Just two weeks ago, all three bond rating agencies affirmed Montgomery County’s “Triple-A” bond rating with a “stable” outlook, which allows the County to borrow for future schools, road, and other construction needs at the most favorable interest rates -- saving County taxpayers millions of dollars a year.
One of the three agencies had put the County on a “watch” list due to the economic downturn and falling County tax revenues. Due to the actions we’ve taken, the County is now off that list – and that’s great news.
Our fiscal challenges are far from over, but these steps -– added to the work we’ve already done over the past several years -- will make our great County even stronger.
Read more about the Triple A bond rating.
The Montgomery County Council will continue its efforts to find out what issues most concern residents when it hosts a Town Hall Meeting for the Leisure World / Northern Silver Spring area on Wednesday, June 16. The meeting at the Leisure World Social Hall will start at 2 p.m. > Press Release.
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and County Councilmember George Leventhal have announced that the Montgomery County Clean Energy Buyers Group, consisting of County jurisdictions and agencies, is now one of the largest green power purchasers in the nation after increasing its annual green power purchase to 161 million kilowatt-hours (kWh).
The group increased its ranking to number four on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Top 20 Local Government list and Number 22 on their National Top 50 list. Montgomery County recently boosted its purchase of green energy to 30 percent of its electricity use, going well beyond its 2010 goal of 20 percent.
The Buyers Group consists of Montgomery County Government, Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery College and the Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission. Also participating are the City of College Park, Chevy Chase Village, Chevy Chase Village Section 5, City of Gaithersburg, City of Rockville, City of Takoma Park, Town of Glen Echo, Town of Kensington, Town of Laytonsville and Town of Somerset.
Collectively, the group is purchasing renewable energy certificates (RECs) from NextEra Energy Resources and Renewable Choice. Also known as green tags, RECs help offset or cancel out the impacts of the pollution created through a consumer’s electricity generation. Green power is electricity generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, biomass and low-impact hydro. Read more.
County Executive Ike Leggett and Chief Administrative Officer Tim Firestine met with County Councilmembers on February 23 to present updated information on the County's budget challenges for the coming year (View Presentation in PDF format). Leggett will release his Recommended Operating Budget for the coming fiscal year on March 15.
The Montgomery County Council has elected Nancy Floreen (D-At Large) to a one-year term as Council president and Councilmember Valerie Ervin (D-District 5) to a one-year term as vice president. They combine to give Montgomery’s Council two female officers for the first time since the 1995-96 term.
The new president identified the economy as the top priority for her term.
“This County is facing a reality check,” she said. “Anybody who balances a checkbook knows that we must make sacrifices and tighten our belts. Our challenges are big this year, but they aren’t bigger than our commitment and our ability to solve them.”
In his remarks as outgoing president, Phil Andrews recapped some of the accomplishments of the Council during the past year under his leadership. During an extremely difficult budget cycle, the Council protected essential services and safety net services for the most vulnerable and protected taxpayers by not raising taxes. He also spoke of work done in the areas transportation, planning and government reform and cited initiatives relating to pedestrian and vehicular safety and public health.
For more about the election, visit the Council News
CATEGORIES: County Council
POSTED: Monday, January 04, 2010 | 1:30:00 PM
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