An online live discussion with County Executive Ike Leggett will be held on Wednesday, June 13, from 1 to 2 p.m.
County residents will be able to talk with the County Executive and ask questions through the County’s website by clicking on the Live Discussion with Ike Leggett link.
Residents interested in participating in the online chat can enter questions prior to or during the live discussion. Questions and answers will be available for viewing both during and after the chat.
For more information, call the Office of Public Information at 240-777-6507.
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 County Executive will host a “virtual” Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, May 23 from 1 to 2 p.m. County residents will be able to talk with the County Executive and ask questions via the County’s website through the Live Discussion with Ike Leggett link
Residents interested in participating in the online chat can enter questions prior to or during the live discussion. Questions and answers will be available for viewing both during and after the chat.
For more information, call the Office of Public Information at 240-777-6507.
Residents in the Chevy Chase area will have a chance to speak directly to County Executive Ike Leggett about issues of concern when he hosts a Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, May 3 at 7 p.m. at the Friendship Heights Village Center, 4433 S. Park Ave.
The town meeting, which is free, will be videotaped by County Cable 6, the County government channel, for future airing.
Sign language interpreter services will be provided only upon request with notice as far in advance as possible, but no less than 72 hours prior to the event. If these or other services or aids are needed to participate in this activity, call 240-777-6507, TTY 240-777-6505 or email a request to email@example.com.
For more information about the town meeting or the cable television program schedule, call 240-777-6507.
The Montgomery County Office of Public Information (PIO) has launched “Montgomery al Dia” ("Montgomery Today"), a weekly half-hour County show on Spanish-language Radio America 1540 AM, headquartered in Wheaton. The live show airs every Tuesday from 2-2:30 p.m.
The show features interviews, pre-taped news, PSAs and public call-ins, with production assistance, as needed, provided by Radio America. County government departments, the County Council and other County agencies will collaborate to bring guests, news and information to the County’s Hispanic community. The host is Lorna Virgili of PIO and a 20-year veteran Spanish-language broadcast journalist.
“Information is power,” said Patrick Lacefield, PIO director. “I’m really excited about teaming with Radio America to reach out to our County’s diverse communities.”
A television component of the show is also being produced. “Montgomery al Dia” is recorded live-on-tape at the Radio America studios and broadcasted weekly on County Cable Montgomery -- Channel 6 for Comcast and RCN subscribers; Channel 30 for Verizon subscribers.
To listen to the live broadcast every Tuesday at 2 p.m., visit www.radioamerica.net.
To view the shows online or on TV visit County Cable Montgomery.
Photo: Host Lorna Virgili talked with County Executive Ike Leggett, Environmental Protection Director Bob Hoyt (left) and Recreation Director Gabe Albornoz on the inaugural show.
County residents will be able to talk with County Executive Ike Leggett during his next “virtual” Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, April 18 from 1 to 2 p.m. Residents interested in participating in the online chat can enter questions prior to or during the live discussion through the Live Discussion with Ike Leggett link. Questions and answers will be available for viewing both during and after the chat.
For more information, call the Office of Public Information at 240-777-6507.
County Executive Ike Leggett’s Town Hall Meeting originally announced for April in Friendship Heights has been re-scheduled for Thursday, May 3 at 7 p.m. The location remains the same -- the Friendship Heights Village Center, 4433 S. Park Ave in Chevy Chase.
The meeting will be videotaped by County Cable 6 for future airing.
Sign language interpreter services will be provided upon request at least 72 hours prior to the event.
For more information, call 240-777-6507, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett will hold another “Virtual Town Hall Meeting” on Thursday, March 15, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. County residents will be able to talk with the County Executive and ask questions through the Live Discussion with Ike Leggett link.
The chat will occur after Leggett releases his FY13 Recommended Operating Budget at a noon press conference.
Residents interested in participating can enter questions prior to or during the live discussion. Questions and answers will be available for viewing both during and after the discussion.
For information on the County Executive's FY13 Recommended Operating Budget, go to www.montgomerycountymd.gov at noon on March 15.
As part of the Executive’s new major cross-agency effort that will make meaningful changes to the development application process by streamlining reviews and inspections, two public forums have been planned on the topic of streamlining development.
The public and users of the services of agencies involved with real estate development are invited to attend one of the forums to identify points where plans and permit reviews and inspections can be consolidated, redundant reviews minimized and inconsistencies eliminated.
The forums will be held on February 14, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. and on March 9, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Executive Office Building, Lobby Level Auditorium, 101 Monroe St., Rockville. A cross-agency panel will receive comments, observations and recommendations about experiences with development approvals in getting a project from idea to occupancy.
Register for the February 14 forum.
Register for the March 9 forum.
A week after returning from an historic six-day trade mission to three of India’s largest cities – Hyderabad, Mumbai and New Delhi – Governor Martin O’Malley announced that two Indian companies plan investments in Maryland and eight Maryland businesses inked deals with Indian partners, with a combined total of nearly $60 million in business deals for the State. The governor was joined on the trip by County Executive Ike Leggett and other local elected officials, educators and business leaders.
Montgomery County-based businesses announcing agreements for projects in India are:
- Rockville-based Sheladia Associates, an engineering, architecture and development company, will provide design and project management services valued at $3.7 million for upgrading India’s National Highway 215 to a four-lane facility in the State of Orissa.
- Amarex, a Germantown-based clinical research organization, announced a partnership with Gaithersburg’s Shreis Scalene Sciences LLC to gain FDA approval for the medical device Cytotron, which uses a patented technology to treat regenerative and degenerative diseases such as cancer, osteoarthritis and multiple sclerosis.
- Electro-Media Design Ltd., a Gaithersburg-based company that specializes in consulting and design services in event technology and acoustics for meeting and entertainment facilities, announced a partnership with ITC Hotels in India to provide contemporary design services for conference, event, and entertainment venues for their new properties and existing hotels, supporting ITC’s sustainable and green practices.
Read more about the India trade mission success.
County Executive Ike Leggett recently urged the County Council to bring to a vote the proposed youth curfew bill which has been at the Council since July. In response, the Council has scheduled the measure for a vote on December 6. The bill is designed to protect underage youth from becoming victims of crime or becoming involved in late-night crime and anti-social activities.
Police announced another late night mass theft incident in Silver Spring over the last weekend involving underage youth. Read more....
In addition, the County Executive, the Montgomery County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition strongly opposed the “loitering” bill proposed by Councilmember Phil Andrews, a measure which the County Attorney has already called “likely unconstitutional” and which is opposed by the Police Department. See the County Executive’s testimony. See the testimony of the ACLU and the Civil Rights Coalition.
Go to www.montgomerycountymd.gov/curfew for more information.
Watch the full episode. See more State Circle.
A teen curfew, budget cuts and construction projects are just some of the topics making headlines in Montgomery County. What does the future hold? Maryland Public Television's "State Circle" gets some answers in an interview with County Executive Ike Leggett.
In response to questions raised by the County Council about the proposed youth curfew, County Executive Ike Leggett submitted a memo in mid-September containing detailed replies to those questions.
The questions ranged from asking for data on juvenile crimes, what times of day they were committed and trends in juvenile crime in the County and should there be exceptions for movies, concerts and other entertainment activities to the effectiveness of curfews in neighboring jurisdictions and how the law would be enforced – based on age, behavior or both.
An attachment to the memo depicts statistics contained in the memo through graphs and text.
Falls Prevention Education Programs for Seniors
Activities are scheduled in October to highlight falls prevention education for seniors.
"Falls are the leading cause of injury-related emergency room visits and hospital admissions for Marylanders over the age of 65 -- but are highly preventable," said Odile Saddi, director of the County's Area Agency on Aging. In 2010, there were 3,294 calls to 9-1-1 attributed to falls by individuals over the age of 60. Nearly 2,100 of the falls were by individuals over the age of 80.
Upcoming falls prevention activities are listed below.
- October 3: Holy Cross Hospital Senior Source: Better Balance Exercise Classes. Call 301-754-8800.
- October 4: New Bone Builders exercise class to increase bone density, strength and balance begins at Wisconsin Place Community Center. Call 240-777-1350.
- October 31-December 5: OASIS offers Free From Falls. Call 301-469-6800, extension 211.
- Jewish Community Center's ACE program focusing on Science and Technology will feature aging-in-place expert Louis Tenenbaum on falls prevention. Call 301-348-3864.
For information from the National Institutes on Health related to decreasing the risk of falls, go to http://nihseniorhealth.gov/ and search for "Falls and Older Adults."
Going to The Fillmore? MCDOT Recommends Transit and Parking Options
The Fillmore, the County's newest music venue in downtown Silver Spring, opened earlier tin September. To help patrons attending shows and events, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has offered tips on getting there and/or where to park:
Take Transit. The Fillmore is an easy walk from the Silver Spring Metro station. Metro operates until midnight on weekdays and to 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. There are also several Metrobus and Ride On bus routes that serve the area. Check transit options on the County's website.
Drive. For those who choose to drive, MCDOT recommends using the Spring Street/Cameron Street garage located at 1800 Cameron Street. With more than 1,300 spaces, this garage is generally less congested than some of the other parking garages and lots in the area and is just a short stroll from The Fillmore's front door. Parking is free after 7 p.m. on weekdays and all day Saturday and Sunday. Get more information about parking options on the County's website.
New Online Newsletter for Upcounty Residents
To help keep upcounty residents informed about happenings in their area, the Upcounty Regional Office is producing a weekly online newsletter. Entitled "Upcounty Today," the newsletter features photos and short articles on community events, programs and news from Montgomery County of interest to local residents.
To make sure you receive the newsletter on a regular basis, subscribe by going to www.montgomerycountymd.gov/esubscription.
Questions and/or comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Cathy Matthews, regional director of the Upcounty Regional Office at 240-777-8040.
County Executive's New Appointments
County Executive Ike Leggett recently announced two appointments that have been confirmed by the County Council.
Department of Permitting Services
Diane Schwartz-Jones has been selected to serve as Director of the Department of Permitting Services. In her current position as Assistant Chief Administrative Officer (ACAO), Schwartz-Jones has made significant contributions to land-use, planning and development-related decisions and activities in the County. Her experience and expertise will help assure that the Department of Permitting Services remains a partner in the regulation of growth and development of the County.
Office of the County Executive
Ramona Bell-Pearson was chosen to fill the ACAO vacancy created by the appointment of Diane Schwartz-Jones. Bell-Pearson began her career with the County in the Office of the County Attorney in 1990. She has been working as a senior manager in the Department of Health and Human Services, where she handled quasi-legal and administrative matters pertaining to policy, confidentiality and risk matters.
This transition is expected to take place by the end of September.
Damascus Welcomes New Woodfield Rd. Extension
Some new critical traffic congestion relief and improved traffic safety measures came to upper Montgomery County with the recent opening of the 3,400-foot extension of Woodfield Rd. from north of Main St. (Maryland Route 108) to Ridge Rd. (Maryland Route 27).
A separate eight-foot wide bikeway/shared use path was built along Woodfield Rd. Extended and along Ridge Rd. Environmental features include construction of six acres of offsite reforestation area, 1.3 acres of offsite wetlands and three storm water management facilities. The project also includes traffic signals, streetlights, crosswalks, bus stops and Americans with Disabilities Act ramps to ensure the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.
Learn more about the extension.
Officials Unveil Pedestrian, Traffic Safety Improvements on Castle Blvd.
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and County Councilmember Nancy Navarro recently joined community members to celebrate pedestrian and traffic safety improvements installed by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) along Castle Blvd. from Briggs Chaney Rd. to Castle Terr.
The traffic calming measures installed included new concrete bump-outs and pedestrian refuge islands; modified curbs, gutters and sidewalks to ensure compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act standards; relocated bus stops to improve safety for transit users; enhanced crossings at bus stops; new traffic signs and pavement markings; and additional minor roadway repairs. Engineers ensured that the traffic calming design would not impede biking.
Read more about the project.
"Be a Time Traveler" in Montgomery County
The Heritage Tourism Alliance of Montgomery County (Heritage Montgomery) has produced a new guide to local heritage sites – "Be a Time Traveler! Discover Montgomery County, Maryland." The 25-page brochure features 29 locations, all with unique stories to tell about the area's rich history.
In addition to photos, contact information and descriptions for the sites, each listing in the brochure also includes a QR (Quick Response) code. By using a QR code reader app that can be downloaded free-of-charge onto a smartphone, users can scan the codes in the brochure and be connected directly to the site's webpage. In addition to having more detailed information available at a traveler's fingertips, the brochure and QR codes provide visitors with information on destinations that are unstaffed or not staffed full time.
To see the brochure, visit HeritageMontgomery.org. Paper copies are available from the Heritage Montgomery office (12515 Milestone Manor La., Germantown MD 20876; 301-515-0753) or at heritage sites around the County.
Long Term Care Ombudsman Program Seeks Volunteers
Montgomery County's Long Term Care Ombudsman Program is seeking individuals interested in helping to enhance the quality of life for nursing home residents as long-term care advocates with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services. Volunteers make regular visits to residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities at convenient locations throughout Montgomery County.
The intensive orientation program for volunteer candidates is a comprehensive training focused on promoting resident rights in nursing home and assisted living systems. The orientation will be held Monday, October 10 through Friday, October 14 at Holiday Park Senior Center, 3950 Ferrara Dr., Wheaton. The course is held daily from 9 am. to 3 p.m. Class size is limited and pre-registration is required.
To learn more, contact Eileen Bennett at eileen.bennett@Montgomerycountymd.gov or 240-777-1067.
Montgomery's Help Allows State to Accelerate Construction on Intersection Improvements
The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA), in partnership with Montgomery County's Department of Transportation (MCDOT), recently began a series of intersection improvements on state roads.
MCDOT is helping to fund these enhancements to reduce traffic congestion at selected bottlenecks and improve vehicular and pedestrian safety, because state roads carry the heaviest traffic volumes in the County. The County's 50 percent contribution of $3.2 million for the design, right-of-way acquisition and construction costs of these projects has allowed the improvements to move forward more quickly.
The intersection improvements are part of a list of priority transportation projects developed by Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and the County Council. Funding was approved by the County Council as part of the County's project for State Transportation Participation that began in fiscal year 2007.
Seven of the 10 projects are currently under construction.
See the complete list of projects with current status.
Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Executive to Host Town Hall Meeting in Bethesda
County Executive Ike Leggett will host a Town Hall Meeting in the Bethesda area on Wednesday, September 21 at 7:30 p.m. at Westland Middle School, 5511 Massachusetts Ave. The free meeting is designed to give residents an opportunity to present issues of concern directly to the Executive. County Cable Montgomery (the County government channel that is channel 6 on the Comcast and RCN cable systems and channel 30 on Verizon) will videotape the meeting for future airing.
Sign language interpreter services will be provided only upon request with notice as far in advance as possible, but no less than 72 hours prior to the event. If these or other services or aids are needed to participate in this activity, call 240-777-6507, TTY 240-777-6505 or email a request to email@example.com.
For more information about the town meeting or the cable television program schedule, call 240-777-6507.
Hiring Contractors to Make Post-Quake/Storm Home Repairs: Proceed with Caution
The Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) warns County residents to be cautious when hiring contractors to repair damage caused by the recent earthquake and hurricane. Consumers should do their homework before signing a contract for any home repair or improvement, or tree service work.
The Office of Consumer Protection offers the following advice to homeowners:
- Don’t panic and hire someone because they are the only company that can come out right away. Make sure the home improvement contractor is licensed with the Maryland Home Improvement Commission (MHIC). Call 410-230-6309 or check online at the State Dept. of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
- For tree service or removal, check to see if the business is a licensed tree expert with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Forestry Division at 410-260-8521 or online at www.dnr.maryland.gov.
- Get estimates from three contractors.
- State law prohibits home improvement contractors from collecting more than one-third of the contract amount as a deposit
- Check the contractors’ complaint records with the Office of Consumer Protection at 240-777-3636 or online at http://montgomerycountymd.gov/consumer and the Better Business Bureau at 202-393-8000 or online at www.dc.bbb.org, and with the MHIC and DNR.
For more information, call 240-777-3636 or visit OCP’s website at http://montgomerycountymd.gov/consumer.
Try It, You Might Like It: Go Car-Free on September 22
Join others throughout the Washington region and worldwide in celebrating Car-Free Day on September 22 this year.
Last year, about 7,000 people took the pledge to go Car-Free or Car-Lite and contributed to improving the region’s air quality and reducing their carbon footprint. Pledge today to go car-free on September 22, and enjoy a chance to win great prizes, including an iPad and a bicycle.
Montgomery County’s Commuter Services can assist employers in organizing Car-Free Day events, as well as help individual commuters find new ways to get to work. Email Commuter Services for assistance.
Figures Show Pedestrian Safety Initiative is Working
Data recently presented by the Transportation and Police departments to CountyStat indicate that -- thanks to County Executive Ike Leggett’s Pedestrian Safety Initiative -- pedestrian collisions and the severity of collisions are heading downward. The initiative was released in December 2007.
One of the biggest successes of the Initiative has been the Safe Routes to School program where engineering improvements, bolstered by education and enforcement actions, at more than 50 schools have reduced pedestrian collisions by about 78 percent when comparing collision statistics from three years before the improvements with the time period after the improvements.
A key strategy of the Pedestrian Safety Initiative is also to target engineering, education and enforcement activities on County roadways with the highest number of pedestrian collisions, or the High Incidence Areas (HIAs). Since the first HIA safety audit was conducted in 2008, HIA collisions, as a percent of total pedestrian collisions in the County, have decreased from 10 percent to four percent in 2010.
CountyStat conducts periodic reviews of the components of the Pedestrian Safety Initiative that have played a critical and valuable role in the program to ensure that effective strategies are being employed to improve pedestrian safety.
The full CountyStat presentation is available on the County’s website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/countystat. For more information, contact CountyStat Manager Chris Cihlar at 240-777-2627 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bring Some Good Luck to a Black Cat
Did you know: Black cats are the least likely to be adopted in a shelter due to undeserved myths.
The Montgomery County Humane Society (MCHS) wants to change that!
So throughout September, the society is WAIVING ADOPTION FEES for the lucky adopters of a solid black cat or kitten over six months old from the MCHS shelter or in foster care.
Adoption applications must be completed in person. Bring a valid driver’s license, proof of rabies shots for other pets in the home, landlord’s name and phone number if applicable and veterinary reference. Montgomery County applicants take priority over others. Youths under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. For more details about adoption, click here.
Is Bus Rapid Transit the Ride of the Future in Montgomery County?
Last year, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) began a study to identify key transportation corridors in the County that could accommodate bus rapid transit (BRT) service -- a more predictable, streamlined bus service similar to light rail but with a lower cost.
The study recommends developing bus rapid transit along 16 corridors, totaling 150 miles. Passengers would pay in advance and enter low-floor buses directly through multiple doors -- no steps or lifts. Buses would arrive at stations every 10 minutes or less, preferably operating in the median of major roads such as Veirs Mill Rd., Georgia Ave. and Randolph Rd.
Next comes further discussions with neighboring agencies, jurisdictions and the general public.
For a copy of the bus rapid transit study, visit MCDOT’s website.
Spanish-speaking Election Judges Sought
Montgomery County Board of Elections is seeking individuals with Spanish speaking fluency to serve as election judges at polling places on Primary Election Day, Tuesday, April 3, 2012.
In accordance with the Election Law of Maryland, judges must be registered to vote in the State of Maryland, 18 years of age or older and a U.S. citizen. Judges must also be able to speak, read and write in English. Montgomery County residency is not a pre-requisite to serve. All judges will be compensated for training and for Election Day service.
If you are interested in taking a leadership position in your community on Election Day, contact the Montgomery County Board of Elections at 240-777-8532, download an election judge questionnaire from our website at www.777vote.org, or e-mail Dr. Gilberto Zelaya at email@example.com.
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.
With the turn of a shovel, County Executive Ike Leggett (center in photo) saw the first of his Smart Growth Initiative (SGI) construction projects -- that will eventually revitalize an old industrial area by creating an urban village near the Shady Grove Metro – take a major step toward becoming a reality.
The $36.7 million Equipment and Maintenance Operations Center (EMOC) project is a collection of 13 buildings that will serve the Department of Transportation’s divisions of Transit Services and Highway Services and the Department of General Services, plus provide a Day Labor Center.
The facilities include administrative buildings; bus parking for 200 buses; bus service lanes; bus wash facility; fare collection area; bus service maintenance bays; parts room; heavy equipment storage shed; soil/gravel storage area; Highway Services bays; compressed natural gas fast-fill, gasoline and diesel fueling stations; and employee and visitor parking.
EMOC’s environmentally-sensitive design increases the size of existing facilities within a smaller footprint by using multi-story buildings. Many acres of green space provide for stream buffer protection and forest conservation. The overall project is designed to achieve a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification by incorporating innovative features. A pilot project, which is the first in the State of Maryland, will reclaim, treat and reuse rainwater for toilet flushing and bus washing, reducing water use by 80 percent. Seventy-five percent of the building roofs, more than four acres, will have green roofs to decrease stormwater runoff.
Leggett’s SGI is a cost-neutral strategy that will provide substantial economic opportunities for future growth while implementing the goals of the Shady Grove Sector Plan.
See more details.
Welcome to this special edition of the Paperless Airplane marking May – not only across the United States but here in Montgomery County -- as “Older Americans Month.” The theme this year is “Older Americans: Connecting the Community,” paying homage to the many ways in which seniors bring inspiration and continuity to the fabric of Montgomery County. We are a community of more than 170,000 residents aged 60 and above, myself included!
Later this month, I will officially proclaim May as Older Americans Month, and we have several special activities planned this month to commemorate and recognize our fellow residents.
I have long realized the value that older residents bring to their communities. That is why, in November 2008, I convened a Senior Summit, bringing together nearly 200 interested residents, County government staff and other professionals working with seniors. The Summit focused our efforts on planning for the future, when we’ll see a dramatic increase in the number of seniors who call Montgomery County home. Several subcommittees have been working since then to bring attention to issues affecting seniors and their families.
Please read on to learn more about programs and services we offer to seniors and their families here in Montgomery County.
Montgomery County Executive
The Pepco Work Group, appointed last October by County Executive Ike Leggett to investigate causes for Pepco’s frequent and lengthy electricity outages in Montgomery County, has presented its final report to the Executive.
Included in the 192-page document are 30 recommendations for Pepco, six to local governments and 20 for the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) that regulates public utilities in the state.
Leggett commended the Work Group members for their diligence and dedication to addressing the issues associated with their task. “Given Chairman Norman Augustine’s results-oriented background and the credentials of the group as a whole, I knew this final report would present some viable options for solutions to the issue at hand. And, I am pleased with the blueprint that this report presents for action.
“I also want to thank everyone who responded in some way and provided feedback to the Work Group,” Leggett said. “Your responses have been instrumental in helping the members of the group formulate their recommendations.”
The Work Group’s transmittal letter to Leggett, signed by Chairman Augustine, said, “While much needs to be accomplished, largely by Pepco itself, the single most important action that can be taken by those outside the company is to establish a carefully considered, aggressive package of financial incentives and punishments that appropriately align Pepco’s priorities with those of the community.”
For more details on the Work Group and the County’s past interactions with Pepco, visit the Pepco Reliability page.
Hundreds of volunteers turned out on Earth Day to launch the first part of a major reforestation project at the Oaks Landfill in Laytonsville. The project was made possible by a $25,000 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to the Montgomery Soil Conservation District.
The corps of volunteers, that included County Executive Ike Leggett, students from local high schools, Master Gardeners and other residents of all ages, planted 600 trees on a portion of the 10-acre site adjacent to the landfill that operated from 1982 to 1997. Eventually, the entire 10 acres is slated for tree planting.
Taking time out from planting, Leggett talked with various volunteers. Among them were Sonia D’Agnese and her children, Ugo and Enia.
Read more about the project.
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett today announced the results of a County survey of residents and businesses conducted earlier this year that focused on the quality of service and reliability of Pepco’s responses to past power outages experienced in the County.
Nearly 12,000 responses were received from the Customer Relations Survey conducted in January and February by the Pepco Work Group appointed by Leggett in October 2010. A total of 10, 895 residents responded, while 654 businesses completed the survey.
Among the findings reported by Pepco customers taking the survey are:
- Almost 95% reported they had experienced at least one outage of more than five hours in the past year. Just over 50% also reported that they had experienced non-major-event-related outages of more than one hour in the past year.
- The economic costs of long outages experienced in the past year can be estimated, based on reports obtained from survey respondents, from $22.9 to $114.6 million for residents in Montgomery County and $21.1 to $211 million for businesses.
- 10,430 residential respondents, or 95.7%, experienced one or more outages of longer than five hours in the past year. Of these respondents, almost 65% reported calling Pepco more than twice to check the status of the outage. Only 5% of Pepco’s residential customers reported that they did not attempt to call Pepco at all. Of those who experienced long outages, 85.5% incurred costs or other economic losses that they otherwise would not have incurred.
- 609 commercial respondents, or 94.9%, experienced one or more outages of longer than five hours in the past year. Of those who experienced long outages, 83.3% incurred costs or other economic losses that they otherwise would not have incurred.
“I was pleased with the response we received and want to thank every resident and business person who took the time to reply,” said Leggett. “The data gives us some very useful information that we can use to assess the economic impacts associated with long outages. But, it also gives us a pretty clear picture of the extent to which policy choices made by legislators are likely to be supported by Pepco customers.”
To see the entire survey report, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov and click on Pepco Work Group Customer Satisfaction Survey results
County Executive Ike Leggett testified on April 6 before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works at a hearing entitled, “State and Local Perspectives on Transportation.”
Leggett discussed the importance of Federal funding to ease traffic congestion in Montgomery County and the Washington metro area. He detailed the impacts BRAC is already having on the Bethesda area and stressed the importance of Congress continuing the New Starts Program so the County can advance the Corridor Cities Transitway, the Purple Line and a Bus Rapid Transit system.
Senators sought testimony from community leaders and transportation stakeholders on national, state and local transportation priorities for the next surface transportation authorization.
In part, Leggett told the committee:
“We must find ways to make it easier for local governments to obtain federal transportation funds. The Federal Bridge program is an example of a successful federal transportation program that benefits state and local governments. More federal funding should be made available to local jurisdictions following a similar protocol.
“As we look toward job growth, it is clear that with most of our local roadway system already in place our economic development is directly tied to improved mass transit to serve both private and public sector employees.
“It is important that Congress continue the New Starts Program which gives us the opportunity to compete for federal funds to build the Corridor Cities Transitway, the Purple Line, and to advance a Bus Rapid Transit system in our County.”
Read the complete statement.
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett has released the Latino Youth Collaborative Steering Committee Report titled, “A Generation of Youth Hanging in the Balance.”
The committee was charged with developing recommendations that would address the issues and challenges uncovered in a survey of more than 1,000 Latino youth conducted by Identity, Inc. in 2006. The group was charged with studying the critical areas of education, violence prevention and well-being, and to develop strategies for the future.
Recommendations from the steering committee include the following actions:
- Identify whether existing County services are reaching Latino target populations and areas where the Latino community is disproportionately represented or negatively affected.
- Develop policies and implement strategies for increasing career/job based education opportunities for Montgomery County Public School students.
- Improve the cultural and linguistic competence of each County department.
- Provide Latino youth and families with the necessary tools, knowledge and access to strengthen their civic engagement capabilities.
Leggett will establish a time-limited Oversight Work Group to monitor progress in the implementation of the report’s recommendations.
Hard Choices Made Include Significant Reductions in Employee Staffing and Compensation, plus Cuts in Programs and Services; No Property Tax Increase Beyond Charter Limit
County Executive Ike Leggett has announced his recommended $4.35 billion operating budget that closes a $300 million gap for fiscal year (FY) 2012 that begins July.
Leggett’s budget focuses on protecting essential services and his priorities of education, public safety and the safety net for the most vulnerable, but includes significant reductions in services, staffing levels and employee compensation to address the County’s long-term structural budget challenge. The only major County department seeing any increase is the Police Department.
The budget includes no reductions in County transit routes and no reductions to senior transportation and nutrition programs. Library operating hours and materials costs were maintained. All County recreation centers remain open, and ambulance service levels were maintained. There are no reductions in Police Department specialty units, and County after-school Sports Academies and Recreation Extra programs continue at their current levels.
In addition to the Montgomery County government budget, the overall recommendations include:
- Maintaining local funding for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) at the same level as the current year -- $1.415 billion. This represents a reduction of $82 million, equaling 96 percent of the Board of Education’s request. Overall, with increased state and federal funding, the MCPS budget increases by $67.7 million, a 3.5 percent rise;
- Increasing the total County budget (all agencies, all tax-supported and non-tax-supported funds and debt service) of $76.5 million from the FY11 approved budget, a 1.8 percent increase;
- Increasing the overall tax-supported budget for all County agencies (including debt service) of $111.9 million, a 3.1 percent increase;
- Funding increases for Montgomery College of $1.5 million, a 0.7 percent increase; and
- Funding reductions for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) of $1.7 million, a 1.8 percent decrease.
Among County government departments and initiatives, the largest reductions from FY11 levels include Community Grants (26% less), the Arts and Humanities Council (24 %), Housing and Community Affairs (15%), General Services (11%), County Attorney’s Office (11%) and Public Libraries (10%).
Some services proposed to be eliminated or significantly impacted:
- Public Libraries -- staffing would be reduced in a number of libraries including Silver Spring, Twinbrook, Chevy Chase and Long Branch. Information Service staff would be eliminated on Sundays, although Virtual Services would remain available;
- Recreation -- most youth sports programs would be eliminated, as well as teen special events;
- The Office of Commission for Women, Office of Human Rights and the Regional Services Centers will be consolidated into the newly-created Office of Community Engagement;
- Health and Human Services -- the Conservation Corps program will be eliminated, as well as the Energy Tax Rebate program. An annual co-pay of $25 will be instituted for all Montgomery Cares Program participants; and
- Police -- School Resource Officer program will be eliminated, as would Police neighborhood satellite stations in Piney Branch, Olney and East County.
The Police budget will increase by one-half percent, primarily to respond to growing public safety issues in the Silver Spring Central Business District and the Route 29 corridor. Fire and Rescue funding will decrease by 1.7 percent
The Council’s public hearings on the budget are scheduled for April 5-7. Residents may sign up to speak by calling 240-777-7803. They can also send email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or regular mail to 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850. Comments may be left on the Council’s budget hotline at 240-777-7802.
See budget highlights and the full budget at montgomerycountymd.gov/omb. Additional information on the proposed budget is at montgomerycountymd.gov/budget.
County Executive Ike Leggett has applauded the decision of the General Services Administration that will keep the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Montgomery County.
“I am pleased that the General Services Administration (GSA) has chosen Montgomery County as the location to consolidate four U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ offices. The Parklawn Drive Building is adjacent to the Twinbrook metro station and convenient to shopping and dining in the area, which is consistent with our County’s transit oriented development initiative.
“Close to 3,000 employees will eventually work in the renovated 936,000 square feet of office space. Chevy Chase-based JBG Companies will invest $270 million for renovation of the building, and the County will benefit from the additional property tax revenue generated by the expanded space.
“Montgomery County is a great place to live and work and the GSA agreed with us.”
County Executive Ike Leggett has proposed new legislation that would place a five-cent charge on each paper or plastic carryout bag provided by retail establishments in the County to customers at the point of sale, pickup or delivery. Retailers would receive a one-cent rebate on each plastic bag to help cover administrative costs. The new law would take effect January 1, 2012.
Revenues from the tax -- estimated at about $1.5 million in the first year -- would be directed to the Water Quality Protection Fund (WQPF) that pays for things such as stormwater management, watershed restoration and litter clean-up. Plastic bags are one of the top four items found in County streams and stormwater controls. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) staff said that in 2009 the County spent approximately $3 million for litter prevention and clean-up programs.
To read the law and see other facts about plastic bag pollution, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/trashfree. Also, see news release.
Residents in the Wheaton-Kensington area are invited to share their comments and concerns about County issues with County Executive Ike Leggett at a Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m. at Crossway Community, 3015 Upton Dr., Kensington.
While the meeting is open to all, it will be videotaped for future rebroadcast by County Cable 6, the County government channel.
Sign language interpreter services will be provided only upon request with notice as far in advance as possible, but no less than 72 hours prior to the event. If these or other services or aids are needed to participate in this activity, call 240-777-6507, TTY 240-777-6505 or email email@example.com.
For more information about the meeting and/or cable schedule, call 240-777-6507.
County Executive Ike Leggett recently initiated and hosted a meeting in Silver Spring with Washington DC Mayor Vincent Gray and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker to discuss issues of common concern among the jurisdictions.
Topics included small business development, transportation and public safety. Joining the discussion with the three leaders were the police chiefs and transportation and economic development directors from all three jurisdictions.
Urging greater collaboration on the full range of issues, Leggett said, "Our challenges and our opportunities know no borders."
>> View clip from the meeting.
In response to the final report of the Organizational Reform Commission (ORC), County Executive Ike Leggett has submitted recommendations to the County Council that support most of the ORC recommendations.
Appointed last July, the eight-member commission’s charge was to help address the County’s serious fiscal challenge by proposing ways to reorganize or consolidate functions performed by County government or County-funded agencies.
The Commission’s 28 recommendations fell into two groups. The first dealt with changes in structure and organization – for example, merging the Park Police force into the County Police force, combining park and recreational services, and consolidating the information technology functions of the various County agencies. The second group addressed changes in process and operations – for example, requiring greater transparency in the collective bargaining process, adjusting the criteria that arbitrators must consider and achieving greater efficiency in the use of Information Technology.
Read the Executive’s recommendations.
In an eight-page response to the Maryland Public Service Commission’s (MPSC) proposed revision of the state regulation regarding service provided by electric companies, Montgomery County has filed a series of comments that define an acceptable level of reliability for the Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco) and address “inadequate” discretionary civil penalties.
County Executive Ike Leggett said, “This series of comments to the Maryland Public Service Commission – the body that regulates Pepco and other public utilities – reflects the frustration of our residents and clearly presents what we consider to be a level of acceptable reliability by Pepco. We’re simply asking the commission to take a step back and commit itself to ensuring that Pepco is held to this standard.”
The other point raised by the County in its comments is that holding Pepco accountable through discretionary civil penalties is “grossly inadequate” and in no way compares to the financial hardships experienced by the community.
Read the full document at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/EXEC/pdf/rm_43_comments.pdf.
A new link on the Montgomery County homepage makes it even easier for residents to provide comments and ideas on government restructuring, cost savings and other thoughts about closing the County’s projected $300 million budget gap for the coming fiscal year. The link leads to a form where residents can provide feedback.
The information will be used by County Executive Ike Leggett as he prepares his recommended operating budget, which will be presented to the County Council on March 15, and by the Council during its budget deliberations.
The budget form is available directly at montgomerycountymd.gov/budgetcomments.
As the result of a number of residents and businesses conveying their concerns to County Executive Ike Leggett about how roadway soliciting impacts public safety on local roads, the Executive convened a Roadway Solicitation Task Force in January 2010. The group’s mission was to examine the practice of solicitation on roads in the County and develop recommendations for practical and appropriate ways to deal with the problem.
In its just-released report, the Task Force noted that roadway solicitation is often hazardous to both panhandlers and motorists and can potentially undermine the County's comprehensive efforts to promote pedestrian safety. The report said that while some panhandlers are homeless, appropriate services exist in the County to serve these individuals, and panhandling can often be counterproductive to addressing homelessness, as well as addiction problems.
Leggett has asked the State legislators who served on the Task Force to introduce a bill in the 2011 Session that would authorize the County to establish a permit system for roadside solicitation (i.e., State enabling law). Under the bill, solicitation from a median strip or sidewalk adjacent to a roadway without a permit would be prohibited.
See the entire proposal (PDF).
County Executive Ike Leggett and Department of Transportation officials have announced the launch of a new, online tool that will make it easier for residents to decide when to safely venture out following a snowstorm and to monitor snow clearing progress.
The map tool will show the progress of snow plows throughout the County and indicate when emergency roads, primary neighborhood streets and neighborhood streets have been cleared. A zoom feature allows residents to focus on the plow status of their immediate neighborhood and surrounding streets and then zoom out to check on an entire trip route.
Also, during storms, check the Winter Storm and Information Updates page for the latest information about closures, service schedules, etc.
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett is sponsoring five budget forums throughout the County in coming weeks to seek input from residents about Fiscal Year 2012 Operating Budget priorities. With a projected $300 million budget gap looming, Montgomery County is again facing a challenging fiscal forecast.
The forums will begin at 7 p.m., on the following dates:
- January 10, Upcounty Regional Services Center, 12900 Middlebrook Rd., Germantown
- January 13, Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring
- January 18, Crossway Community, 3015 Upton Dr., Kensington
- January 20, Eastern Montgomery Regional Services Center, 3300 Briggs Chaney Rd., Silver Spring
- January 24, Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor La., Bethesda
The County Executive announces his recommended fiscal year 2012 operating budget on March 15. The County Council approves the operating budget at the end of May.
Visit website montgomerycountymd.gov/townhall for more information.
Shortly past noon on December 6, Isiah “Ike” Leggett took the oath of office for his second term. Beginning his second term, Leggett spoke about “Continuing to Build A Better County: Moving Beyond Our Challenges.” Below is the full text of his speech. For other details, see The Washington Post article. Leggett, above,with his two grandsons following the Inauguration.
Read full speech from inauguration.
On December 2, County Executive Ike Leggett shared the latest budget updates and the possible impacts on County departments in the following letter to all County Employees. Also see The Washington Post article.
Dear Fellow County Employee:
I write to you today about the latest updates in our County’s fiscal challenges.
Together, over the past few years, we have done much in reducing County spending in response to the most serious downturn since the Great Depression — while, at the same time, doing our best to protect vital County services and programs. We have closed budget gaps of an unprecedented $2.2 billion over the last four years.
County government tax-supported spending this year is 7 percent less than last year. None of us are getting raises – whether cost-of-living or steps. And all of us, including myself, are taking furloughs.
I wish I could say to you that our difficulties are easing, but this is not the case. I know we will see that day but it has not yet arrived.
State income tax revenues, paid to the County, are coming in tens of millions below our already downwardly adjusted projections.
Due to repeal of the County’s ambulance reimbursement law in the November election, we have an immediate $14 million shortfall in our Fire & Rescue budget this year – and will lose $170 million over the next ten years in premiums already paid that insurance companies will now pocket.
The State of Maryland is facing a $1.6 billion deficit. The realignment in Congress may dampen our regional economy. And President Obama’s just-announced two-year freeze on federal salaries will also adversely affect County tax revenues.
We estimate that the resulting budget shortfall in this current fiscal year will be about $100 million. Our current estimate of next year’s gap is an additional $250 million – for a total shortfall of $350 million to be filled between the remainder of this fiscal year and the next.
In October, to help close this year’s gap, I sent a $14 million reduction in County government spending to the Council. That is still pending. Later today I will forward to the Council an additional $22 million in needed reductions, including $19 million from the Montgomery County Public Schools and reductions from Montgomery College and Park & Planning.
Today, I forwarded to my Department Directors my first guidance for next year’s budget, Fiscal Year 12, which begins on July 1, 2011. This is the first step in determining the FY12 operating budget I will announce next March.
I have asked all Public Safety departments, Health & Human Services, and Transit to propose reductions totaling 5 percent from this year’s budget.
I have asked all non-Public Safety departments to propose reductions totaling 15 percent.
These target reductions are starting points for discussions that may be adjusted as conditions change or as policy decisions are made and refined.
Given all the cuts we already have made over the past four years, these reductions will be very painful. There is no more “low-hanging fruit.” There will be things County government will do differently. And, yes, there may be things we do not do at all.
As we move forward, I will continue to communicate with you on the budget and other issues you care about.
As always, I welcome your feedback and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Last year I found a number of employee suggestions worth pursuing and many were implemented as part of the adopted FY 2011 budget.
There are hard choices ahead. Please know that I appreciate all you have done and all you will do to help us weather these difficult times and emerge a stronger County.
Supporting a recent proposal presented by County Executive Ike Leggett that the County sell the former Peary High School property in Aspen Hill to the Berman Hebrew Academy, the County Council has voted to approve the sale. The purchase price, which ratifies the terms of the 1996 lease, is $1,914,860.
Peary closed in 1984 due to declining enrollment and deteriorated while vacant. In 1996, then-County Executive Douglas M. Duncan negotiated a lease agreement with the Berman Academy that included an option allowing the school to purchase the property. The proposed sale terms include a provision that would allow the County to repurchase the school if it is needed for public school use.
The Academy’s use of the site is limited to school uses, and the public will still be able to use the fields, gymnasium and auditorium during non-school use times. The County may reclaim the school for public school use through a legal condemnation proceeding at the repurchase price plus relocation costs. Through this proceeding, the County could retake possession of the property five years after the condemnation action is final and non-appealable.
The Berman Academy has estimated that it has spent more than $9 million to refurbish the property that is surrounded by a residential neighborhood in Aspen Hill. There are about 700 students enrolled at the Academy.
The County Planning Board recommended approval of the sale in November and at a subsequent public hearing, a substantial majority of the approximately three dozen speakers supported the sale. Among those supporting the sale was the Aspen Hill Civic Association.
Glenmont residents, area commuters or anyone else whose travel routes take them through the Georgia Ave./Randolph Rd. intersection with any regularity will agree, the intersection has long needed improvement.
However, before the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) could proceed with plans to build a new grade separated interchange at the intersection, the current Fire Station No. 18, located at Georgia and Randolph, needed to be demolished and relocated.
Action on November 30 by the County Council now clears the way for a 19,000 gross square-foot replacement fire station to be built on the approximately 2.61-acre WMATA site adjacent to the planned parking garage on the west side of Georgia Ave. across from Glenallan Ave. Getting the relocation project on track, thus enabling the state to begin work on the interchange, has been one of County Executive Ike Leggett’s top priorities. “Not only will there be a new Station #18, located on a better site, but the interchange project will improve pedestrian and vehicular safety in this densely populated area of the county,” Leggett said.
The recommended station is designed to meet current operational requirements and accommodate modern fire fighting apparatus. The project includes living and administrative areas, gear storage, decontamination, electronic equipment rooms, and three apparatus bays.
Total estimated cost for this project is $13,032,000. The project will be funded from General Obligation Bonds.
The property acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The design phase of the project is expected to take approximately 15 months with construction to start in summer of 2012. The County anticipates completion of construction by the end of 2013.
County Executive Ike Leggett has announced the names of residents selected to serve on the new Pepco Work Group that has been formed to identify and investigate causes for the frequent and lengthy electricity outages, and to recommend solutions.
“It is incredibly important that we do not go through again what we experienced in February and July and August, “Leggett said. “We have to figure out why Pepco power outages occur regularly, on even the nicest of days, threatening life, inconveniencing families, and costing our businesses millions.”
The 12-member group will be chaired by Norman R. Augustine, retired CEO of Lockheed Martin and Montgomery County resident, whose numerous leadership positions include having served as Under Secretary of the Army, Chairman and Principal Officer of the American Red Cross and President of the Boy Scouts of America.
The group is expected to submit a final report, with recommendations, within the next three to six months. Read the group’s work plan and issues to be addressed.
County Executive Ike Leggett recently joined parents, teachers, and children around the world to celebrate International Walk to School Day at East Silver Spring Elementary School (ESS). The annual event promotes safer streets, healthier lifestyles and cleaner air. Leggett was joined by Federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (center), Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, and other dignitaries. Approximately 30 other schools across the County celebrated the day with various activities.
East Silver Spring was the first school in the County to hold a Walk to School Day celebration back in 1999. William Smith, a legally blind parent, was the impetus behind the event and for Maryland’s designation of walking as the state exercise. He’s an advocate for pedestrian safety and was a guest of honor at the celebration.
ESS is also promoting healthy eating, exercise and life styles. The school was adopted by Whole Foods, which helped students plant and maintain a garden in the courtyard. Whole Foods’ “Chef Egg” offered a very popular once-a-week after-school cooking class. And, an after-school “walking club” helped ESS students get more exercise and prepare for the Takoma Park Safe Routes to School 5K Challenge, in which hundreds of students and parents participated.
Montgomery County is upgrading safety at schools, thanks in part to the federal Safe Routes to School program created in 2005. The program provides funding communities can use to retrofit roads and create sidewalks and bike paths that allow children to safely walk or bike to school. Funding also supports enforcement and education campaigns.
For more information, visit MCDOT's pedestrian safety website or call the Office of Community Outreach at 240-777-7155.
County Executive Ike Leggett recently unveiled a blueprint for community-building strategies aimed at providing neighborhood groups with tools to start senior “Villages” that will provide grassroots services to combat social isolation, improve mobility and enhance access to services for seniors.
A Village is a grass roots organization created to provide older adults with lifestyle choices that include continuing to live in their own homes.
Participants in Leggett’s 2009 Senior Summit identified the need to encourage and support the creation of Villages in Montgomery County. Neighbors in Bannockburn, Chevy Chase, Burning Tree, Cabin John and Somerset have created Villages and communities that serve their residents. Other communities in Montgomery County are beginning work on Villages.
Electronic copies of the Blueprint are available by calling the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center at 240-777-8200.
In the wake of the hostage incident on September 1 at Discovery Communications headquarters in the heart of downtown Silver Spring, County Executive Ike Leggett visited Silver Spring Fire Station #1 the next day, to thank the County’s public safety responders for their actions that helped resolve the situation with no loss of hostages and took follow up action to ensure that the building was safe for employees to re-enter the next day. The County Executive was joined by Police Chief J. Thomas Manger, Fire Chief Richard Bowers and Incident Commander Capt. Darryl McSwain.
Also on hand to express their appreciation to the first responders were 8th District Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy and from the County Council: President Nancy Floreen, Vice President and District 5 representative Valerie Ervin, and at-large member George Leventhal. Read County Executive's statement.
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.
Much like a recurring nightmare, natural disasters have pounded Montgomery County residents, roads, traffic signals and services this year. From the record snow storms in February to severe thunderstorms within a month of each other in late July and early August, residents, government agencies and departments, and local utility companies are feeling the strain.
During the latest storms in August -- two in one day -- County Executive Ike Leggett once again found himself surveying damage with Fire Rescue and other emergency response personnel. That same day, he also hosted a meeting with Pepco officials to discuss the company’s performance in delivering reliable electric power to Montgomery County homes and businesses. Making a point to Pepco CEO Joseph Rigby, Leggett was joined by the County’s Chief Administrative Officer Timothy Firestine and Special Assistant Jennifer Hughes. See Leggett’s letter to Rigby. Residents are reminded that the best way to be advised of approaching storms and other emergencies is to sign up for Alert Montgomery. Receive messages from authorized senders on updates, instructions on where to go, what to do, or what not to do, who to contact and other important information. It provides vital information on the go and is as close as your phone or electronic messaging device.
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.
County Executive Ike Leggett feels that Montgomery County residents have the right to expect every County department and employee to be responsive and accountable for all aspects of the services they provide.
To accomplish this goal, Leggett introduced CountyStat to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of government by using up-to-date data as the ongoing focus for day-to-day management and long-term policy making.
This month, the Executive joined Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Baltimore Deputy Mayor Christopher Thomaskutty in testifying at a Field Hearing of the United States Senate Committee on the Budget and the Task Force on Government Performance on “Performance Stat: Measuring Priorities, Progress and Results.”
Leggett presented an overview of his CountyStat, Results-Based Accountability System, shared “lessons learned,” and provided guidance on how this approach can by applied to other government agencies, in particular at the federal and state levels.
The full report is available at: “Performance ‘Stat’: Measuring Priorities, Progress and Results with a Results Based Accountability System” (pdf).
The public is now able to access Montgomery County government information and non-emergency services online or by calling a single number: “3-1-1.”
Formally announcing the system on June 17, County Executive Ike Leggett said, “One of my objectives is to create ‘greater responsiveness and accountability’ in meeting the needs of a very diverse county. As part of this overall objective, I believe a County government that ‘listens’ must have a single, one-stop phone number for service requests, information, and complaints and a web portal where County residents can enter their own requests, get their own information, and track the progress of the work requested. With our new MC311 system, that’s exactly what we’ll get.”
Features of the new MC311 Customer Service Center (CSC) include:
- Customers can call one easy-to-remember number in order to access Montgomery County information and services – “3-1-1”;
- Customers can also access information and create or track service requests on the new website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/311;
- 311 also can be reached from most wireless phones – or residents can reach the Call Center by dialing 240-777-0311, which is also the number to reach MC311 for calls originating outside Montgomery County;
- Hours of Call Center operation are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The self-service website is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week;
- About 30 County government “information and referral” phone numbers are now answered directly by MC311. All other County phones can continue to be dialed direct;
- Trained representatives who speak Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese and French are available, as is a language interpretation service for other languages;
- The TTY line is available by calling 240-773-3556;
For more information about MC311, call the Office of Public Information at 240-777-6507, view the brochure and the Frequently Asked Questions, or watch the 311 Public Service Announcement.
What’s being called “a joyous community celebration” on Thursday, July 8, will mark the Grand Opening of the Silver Spring Civic Building at Veterans Plaza located at Fenton St. and Ellsworth Dr. The celebration begins at 1:30 p.m. with entertainment coordinated by Silver Spring Town Center Inc. The opening ceremony, led by County Executive Ike Leggett, will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by the first Silver Spring Swings Summer Concert with the Fabulous Bel Airs from 7 to 9 p.m. in Veterans Plaza.
But, if you want a sneak peek, take a virtual walk-through of the new building now at www.silverspringdowntown.com.
To see details of the project, visit Silver Spring Civic Building webpage.
“I thank the Council for their swift approval of our proposal to establish a new set of fiscal policies and to enact changes to the Revenue Stabilization Fund law to address our structural budget challenges, including an increase in the County’s reserves from six percent to ten percent over the next nine years.
“This change is critical to continue the work I began four years ago to put the County’s fiscal house in order. We need to look beyond the year-to-year challenges by establishing a six-year structurally-balanced plan. We need to make sure that we as a County put aside more money to assist us in responding to volatile County revenue flows in lean years, especially from the income tax.
“Under this set of changes, reserve funds cannot be spent to support recurring expenses. Revenue above the required reserves can only be used to fund one-time expenditures. And, in good times, additional revenue would flow into the Revenue Stabilization Fund to further enhance our reserves and ensure future, continued fiscal stability.
“These changes make good sense all around.”
County Executive Ike Leggett recently joined County Council President Nancy Floreen, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Deputy Secretary Clarence Snuggs, and federal and local housing officials to tour a formerly vacant foreclosed property in Germantown that is now available for rental through the Housing Opportunities Commission.
The acquisition and renovation of this house, as well as 15 others in Germantown and Wheaton, is part of a $7.1 million effort made possible by funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Neighborhood Stabilization Program, the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s Neighborhood Conservation Initiative and a HUD Community Development Block Grant.
The Housing Opportunities Commission provides the homes to eligible households with incomes less than 50 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), or $51,750 for a family of four. Read more
Throughout May, the Rockville Memorial Library is displaying memorabilia loaned by local families who have lost loved ones in major military conflicts.
The branch also has a Remembrance Book that customers may sign with thoughts/memories, while signage will mark the displays and indicate collections of library materials dealing with military history and other issues relating to veterans’ service.
The display will be up through the Memorial Day weekend. The memorial items may be seen in the display cases on the first floor of the library located at 21 Maryland Ave. Hours are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Read more.
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.
With the Montgomery County Biosciences Task Force laying a strategy for growing the biosciences industry, the Council has now taken a major step toward leading the County into the next 30 years of growing knowledge-based jobs and developing communities of innovation. The Great Seneca Sciences Corridor Master Plan provides for a place for science in the County. But, County Executive Ike Leggett has reminded the Council this area cannot be the only place.
In a recent letter to the Council, Leggett has urged them to “…now link the Great Seneca Sciences Corridor to other areas of the County with complementary science-based assets. I am speaking of the White Oak planning area with the FDA’s Federal Research Campus, the Adventist Hospital campus, and the planned East County Science and Technology Center.
“I am writing to encourage the Council and the Planning Board to modify the Planning Board’s workplan to move the White Oak Plan up to be the next priority for the Planning Board in its master plan revisions. By advancing this plan, we will send a clear message that Montgomery County is a premiere place to locate and develop communities of innovation where companies can locate near the federal assets that govern their work. The White Oak area can also provide growth capacity with opportunities for robust collaboration and ready access to an ever-developing workforce.
“By focusing on the White Oak Plan now – before the ICC is completed – we can make very clear that East to West, with NIH in the core, Montgomery County is the place for knowledge-based jobs and opportunities.”
County Executive Ike Leggett has made it a policy of his administration to hold Town Hall Meetings around the County to give residents an opportunity to share their ideas and comments. In fact, he’s already – in less than four years – held more such meetings than all other past County Executives combined.
The format is simple: For about 90 minutes, the County Executive stands up in front with a wireless microphone and takes all questions and comments.
At the March 22 Town Hall Meeting at Ridgeview Middle School in Gaithersburg, more than 125 residents attended to express their views on various topics. Leggett fielded questions on a multitude of issues, including concerns about and support for the Gaithersburg West Master Plan to boost biotech and create good jobs, proposed cuts in the library budget, and questions on the proposed emergency medical services transport fee that will dedicate $15 million from health insurance companies to Fire and Rescue at no cost to County residents.
The next Town Hall Meeting is scheduled for May 12 at Leisure World in Silver Spring. In our next issue? A write-up of tonight's County Council Town Hall in Kensington.
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.
To help increase the responsiveness and accountability of County government, County Executive Ike Leggett and then-Council President Marilyn Praisner announced in 2007 that for the first time in 13 years, the County would survey residents to obtain feedback on how they viewed local government programs and services. The intent was for the survey to be repeated every two years.
The results from the 2009 survey are in, and in spite of feeling the impact of the nation’s economic downturn over the past two years, residents have again strongly endorsed the county as an “excellent” or “good” place to live and say they are generally happy with the quality of services the County offers.
A first-time question found that 60 percent of respondents said their families were negatively impacted by the economic downturn. However, 88 percent of overall respondents rated Montgomery “as a good place to live” (compared to 86 percent in the 2007 survey); 86 percent said the County is “a good place to raise children” (compared to 81 percent in 2007); and 82 percent were happy with the overall quality of life in the County (compared to 79 percent in 2007).
Responding residents continued to give high marks to significant County services including educational opportunities (84 percent rated them “excellent” or “good” compared to 81 percent in 2007) and recreational opportunities (80 percent excellent or good compared to 81 percent in 2007). The quality of fire service, ambulance service, recycling service, parks and public libraries all received “excellent” or “good” ratings of 87 percent or higher—similar to their ratings in 2007.
Ratings given to traffic flow, affordable housing, population growth, pedestrian safety and the amount of public parking available improved compared to the 2007 survey, but respondents indicated that the County must continue to improve in those areas.
“As in 2007, respondents to the 2009 survey felt that crime, traffic and public schools were viewed as the most important issues the County should address,” said the report’s executive summary.
In his 2009 "State of the County" speech, delivered from the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett emphasized that, despite the current tough economic times, the County has made tremendous progress – but that more hard choices lay ahead.
“The challenge,” he said “is to weather the current downturn while protecting critical programs in education, public safety, and the most vulnerable among us. We must lay the groundwork now to ensure our County emerges from the downturn poised to move forward.”
Leggett made clear that County government must do more with less – and that he will further reduce County spending to bring it into line with available resources. He said he opposed any increase in property taxes above the County’s Charter limit, saying County taxpayers in this downturn are already “burdened enough.”
Over his first three years in office, Leggett has reduced budget shortfalls of $1.2 billion while maintaining essential services and programs and preserving the County’s coveted triple-A bond rating.
He described his efforts to make housing more affordable, noted significant progress on his Smart Growth Initiative and cited some encouraging signs toward his priority to protect, create, and attract jobs, including Microsoft bringing 500 new jobs to the county, the State's location of their biotechnology and green technology centers in the county and Silver Spring’s new Fillmore Music Hall that will generate an estimated $1.7 million annual net public benefit.
To learn more, you can read or watch the entire State of the County.
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