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Leggett’s Recommended Operating Budget Closes $300 Million Gap

 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 county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov 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.

CATEGORIES: Budget , County Executive
POSTED: Friday, March 18, 2011 | 11:00:00 AM |

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to Remain at Parklawn Drive Facility

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.”

CATEGORIES: County Executive , Health
POSTED: Friday, March 18, 2011 | 10:00:00 AM |

Executive Introduces Carryout Bag Legislation; Environmental Programs Would Benefit

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.

CATEGORIES: County Executive , News , Tax
POSTED: Friday, March 18, 2011 | 9:00:00 AM |

Full Service Website Now Available on New Zoning Laws

Residents are invited to learn more about the new zoning laws that will go into effect on April 24 that are designed to help protect and maintain the residential character of neighborhoods by checking out the new “Being Good Neighbors” website.

From there, you can connect to:

  • the informational brochure with information on each of the news laws, plus enforcement procedures
  • the legislation and
  • more than half a dozen resources with links to more information on the various new laws

Also, see the brochure in Spanish.

CATEGORIES: Public Safety , Code Enforcement , News
POSTED: Friday, March 18, 2011 | 8:00:00 AM |

Leggett to Host Town Hall Meeting in Wheaton-Kensington Area

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 karen.falcon@montgomerycountymd.gov.

For more information about the meeting and/or cable schedule, call 240-777-6507.

CATEGORIES: Community Forum , County Executive
POSTED: Friday, March 18, 2011 | 7:00:00 AM |

Investigators Seek Information on February Brush Fire; Tip Line Available 24/7

Montgomery County Fire and Explosive Investigators are looking for information from the community regarding the February 19 brush fire that impacted the Darnestown and Germantown areas.

Anyone with information to assist in the investigation is urged to call the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Tip Line at 240-777-2263. The Tip Line is a non-emergency number and callers can leave information anonymously or speak with an investigator.

CATEGORIES: Public Safety
POSTED: Friday, March 18, 2011 | 6:00:00 AM |

New Civil War Documentary on Website

In conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Heritage Montgomery has produced a 60-minute documentary film on the history of the Civil War in Montgomery County. Entitled Life in a War Zone: Montgomery County during the Civil War, the video features historic and contemporary images of local heritage sites, Civil War re-enactors, and panoramas of unchanged rural landscapes.

The documentary was produced by Heritage Montgomery, written and directed by Barbara Grunbaum of G2 Media, and is enhanced by a soundtrack containing performances by the Washington Revels.

Life in a War Zone can be downloaded via iTunes from the Heritage Montgomery website -- www.HeritageMontgomery.org. The accompanying 32-page booklet, “A Guide to the Civil War in Montgomery County” is currently available under the “Sites” tab at the Civil War Sesquicentennial dropdown.

Paper copies may be requested by calling Heritage Montgomery at 301-515-0753 or emailing lori@heritagemontgomery.org.

CATEGORIES: News , Arts
POSTED: Friday, March 18, 2011 | 5:00:00 AM |

A New Look at Montgomery County on WETA

The WETA Guide to Montgomery County, a new local documentary from WETA TV 26, explores the communities, cultural offerings, activities and history of Montgomery County. The latest in The WETA Guide series, the one-hour local production film looks at the County’s bustling cities, smaller towns and rural landscapes and explores more than 20 different features of the County.

The show offers ideas for day trips, adventures or an evening out. From Bethesda to Damascus and Olney to Sandy Spring, the program showcases the communities, arts and cultural offerings, activities and history of the area.

To learn more about the documentary, take a “favorite things” poll, see a map of the featured locations and more, go to: http://www.weta.org/tv/local/wetaguide/montgomery.

A complete WETA program schedule is available at www.weta.org.

Viewers can watch WETA TV 26 over the air on channel 26.4, and on Comcast 26 and 267, Cox 26 and 802, Dish 8076, FiOS 26 and 471, and RCN 164. WETA HD is available over the air on channel 26.1, and on Comcast 220, Cox 726, FiOS 526, Direct TV 26 and 26-1, and RCN 613.

CATEGORIES: News
POSTED: Friday, March 18, 2011 | 4:00:00 AM |

WORTH NOTING

Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Annual Reunion

County Executive Ike Leggett and other veterans will address the "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans 2nd Annual Reunion" on Wednesday, March 30 at the Silver Spring Civic Building at Veterans Plaza from 6 to 9 p.m. The veterans will talk about their experiences during the Vietnam War and life today.

Veterans of all eras and the public are encouraged to attend.

See the flyer (PDF) for more details.The Recreation Guide: Subscriptions Only Beginning April 1

 

Beginning with the Summer 2011 issue of Montgomery County Guide to Recreation and Park Programs, any resident who wishes to receive the Guide by mail must sign up for a paid subscription.

Currently, only those who already participate in programs receive the Guide in the mail. However, beginning with the Summer issue, residents who wish to continue to have the Guide mailed to their home must purchase a $5 annual subscription which will deliver a full year of five issues (Summer, Fall, Winter, Summer Camps and Spring). The Guide continues to be available online at either www.MontgomeryParks.org/Guide or http://RecWeb.MontgomeryCountyMD.gov.

Print copies of the Guide will still be available at recreation centers, park facilities, government buildings and libraries while quantities last.

To subscribe to the Guide, or for more information, go to http://RecWeb.MontgomeryCountyMD.gov.


Pedestrian Safety for All

 

As you can see, the County’s pedestrian safety message has gotten through to these drivers who, despite having the green light, have yielded the right of way to a gaggle of Canada geese making their way across Rockville Pike at Federal Plaza/Pike Center (just north of Bou Avenue).

Humans, take note, our feathered friends know to cross at a crosswalk. Granted, they’re, going on a red light, but maybe we can work on that.

More information about pedestrian safety for walkers and drivers is available at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/walk.

Thanks to Dan Nabors of VHB (Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc.), a member of the consultant team that led the Pedesterian Road Safety Audit, who photographed the geese.


Online Resource Guide for Vital Living After 50

While age 50 may be the new 30, for many residents, reaching that milestone still involves opportunities and challenges associated with lifestyle issues such as changing work schedules, households and personal needs.

Now, a new online resource guide entitled “Navigator: Vital Living After 50 (PDF)” offers information on how to find:

  • support during transitions
  • resources for keeping as fit as possible
  • ways to explore new interests, meet people, and share talents
  • organizations that can help with employment and/or volunteer goals

The navigator was compiled by the Montgomery County Vital Living Committee.


eNewsletters get an “A” for Spreading the Word of County Programs and Services

With the advent of the internet, computers in more homes and cell phones in more hands than ever, news and information is literally at our fingertips. Recognizing this fact, County departments and agencies are, increasingly, going to the web to get word out to residents about their programs and services.

To see a list of County-produced newsletters you can receiveonline, go to montgomerycountymd.gov/eSubscription. Click 'Update an Account' and enter your email address. Here, you may add or delete subscriptions.

Below are some others not found on the County's eSubscription list that might be of interest.

NEWBetter Ways to Work, published bi-monthly by MC Commuter Services. Features commuting options and transportation news.

e-Biz Update, published bi-weekly by the Department of Economic Development with news of local businesses and upcoming events of interest to the business community.

Montgomery Volunteer, published monthly by the Montgomery County Volunteer Center. News of volunteer opportunities – both one-time and ongoing, how to get involved with various local organizations needing help and awards/special recognitions for volunteer service. Volunteer opportunities are geared for individuals and groups.

 


 

Six Rabies Vaccination Clinics Scheduled

The Montgomery County Police Department’s Animal Services Division will sponsor six rabies vaccination clinics -- from April through September -- at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter located at 14645 Rothgeb Dr., Rockville, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on the following Sundays: April 17, May 15, June 19, July 17, August 21 and September 18.

Maryland law requires that all dogs, cats and ferrets over the age of four months be vaccinated against rabies. Failure to vaccinate an animal as required may subject the owner to a $500 fine. When brought in for vaccination, all dogs must be leashed. Cats and ferrets must be in carriers or otherwise contained.

The vaccinations are free for dogs and cats owned by County residents. There will be a minimal $4 charge for ferrets and out-of-county pets. County residents, as well as City of Rockville and City of Gaithersburg residents, will be required to purchase a pet license if their pet is not currently licensed.

For more information, contact the MCPD Animal Services Division at 240-773-5925.


Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program Vitally Important to Low-Income Residents Faces Funding Cut in FY12

Each year, the County receives a Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to serve our neediest residents with a variety of programs and activities designed to enhance their quality of life. In the current fiscal year, just over $6 million dollars is being used to serve roughly 10,000 low-income beneficiaries.

Activities include housing rehabilitation, workforce skills training, emergency assistance to avoid evictions/foreclosures, youth programs -- including mental health services and a variety of out-of-school time activities -- infrastructure improvements for pedestrian mobility and safety, and assistance to businesses for façade enhancements.

The financial crisis and ensuing recession has left public finances in poor shape, and there is a federal proposal to cut 7.5% in funding to the FY12 CDBG program. This means an approximate $400,000 cut to Montgomery County’s program. It will also translate into job reductions, as less money will be available to support both public and non-profit sectors in administering a reduced work program.

The County Executive has expressed his concerns about the proposed funding cut in a letter to federal officials and has urged them to support full funding. The Montgomery County delegation has also taken a firm stance against the proposed reduction in funding.

Read more about the CDBG program in the FY11 Action Plan, part of the Consolidated Plan for Housing and Community Development.

Also read more about the proposed FY12 HUD budget here.


CONSUMER PROTECTION ASKS: DID YOU KNOW?

More than eight million people fell prey to Identity Theft last year. Avoid becoming a victim. Visit http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/ or call the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) at 240-777-3636.

OCP is the County’s nationally recognized agency responsible for enforcing consumer protection laws that prohibit unfair and deceptive business acts to ensure a fair marketplace for consumers and businesses.

Note: This is the first in a regular series of helpful tips for consumers provided by the Office of Consumer Protection that will appear in each issue of The Paperless Airplane.

 


CATEGORIES: Worth Noting , Transportation
POSTED: Friday, March 18, 2011 | 3:00:00 AM |

MAKING NEWS

MC311 Receives Technology Solutions Award

Montgomery County’s MC311 online and telephone information system has received a Technology Solutions Award for Telecommunications & Information Technology from the Public Technology Institute.

The County’s award submission, “MC311: Re-engineering Local Government Through Customer Relationship Management,” highlighted County Executive Ike Leggett’s vision to “create greater responsiveness and accountability in meeting the needs of a very diverse county.” The system was developed with a two-pronged mission statement: providing a single point-of-contact for customer service delivery and satisfaction; and improving functionality of existing systems and data quality across County government.

CATEGORIES: Making News
POSTED: Friday, March 18, 2011 | 2:00:00 AM |

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Sunday, March 20 -- “Japan Fair.” Bauer Drive Community Center, 14625 Bauer Dr., Rockville. 1 to 5 p.m. Free. Presented by high school students from Yokohama Hayato High School in Yokohama, Japan. Students will demonstrate and teach various Japanese arts, games and customs. Observe an informal Japanese Tea Ceremony and listen to Japanese songs. Also, a martial arts demonstration, dancing and a Japanese play. Learn how to create origami and calligraphy, play Japanese games and see Anime/Manga. Co-hosted by the Department of Recreation and Sakura Educational Exchange USA. Call 301-468-4015.

Wednesday, March 23 -- “Financial Fraud: Seniors Fight Back.” Charter House, 1316 Fenwick La., Silver Spring. 6 - 8 p.m. Free public forum hosted by County’s Advisory Committee on Consumer Protection that will examine financial issues facing seniors. Montgomery County Council President Valerie Ervin will welcome attendees. Moderator Beacon Newspaper publisher Stuart Rosenthal will lead a discussion with experts from the County’s Office of Consumer Protection (OCP), the Maryland Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, attorneys in the field and audience members. Light refreshments served. Pre-registration not required but recommended; seating is limited. Sign language interpreter services provided by request at least 72 hours in advance.To register or request sign language or other services or aids needed to participate in the forum, call 240-777-3636 or MD Relay at 1-800-735-2258, or email consumerprotection@montgomerycountymd.gov. For more information, call 240-777-3636 or visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/consumer.

Saturday, March 26 -- 5th annual Let’s Get It Started, Montgomery County’s job fair for youth, ages 16-21. Silver Spring Civic Building at Veterans Plaza, One Veterans Place. 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. One-on-one opportunities for young job seekers to connect with local businesses looking to hire. Businesses can conduct on-site interviews and offer information about jobs and career track. Sponsored by the Department of Economic Development. Visit www.letsgetitstartedyouthjobfair.com.

Sunday, March 27 -- SCRABBLE® SCRAMBLE fund raiser hosted by the Literacy Council of Montgomery County for its adult literacy programs. Manor Country Club, 14901 Carrolton Rd., Rockville. 6-9 p.m. All proceeds go to the Literacy Council. Four-player teams will compete to achieve the highest total score. Players will be able to purchase extra letters, buy a peek at a dictionary, and play cooperatively with other team members. Prizes will be awarded to the three top scoring teams. Tickets are $200 for a table of four; dinner included. Contact Martha E. Stephens at 301-610-0030 or info@literacycouncilmcmd.org.

Thursday, March 31 -- SuperWoman Doesn’t Live Here Anymore interactive workshop. Montgomery College Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus, Theatre 2. 12:30 p.m. Barbara Talley, renowned author, motivational speaker and poet will provide strategies to manage life, stress and your time. Discussions  will motivate you to become your best self; create a life of contentment; develop support networks; increase productivity, create balance and experience less stress; manage and handle chaos, guilt, and competing priorities; and set realistic expectations. College, County and community personnel will provide services and resources information. Book-signing will follow the presentation. Contact Yvonne Stephens, 240-567-4203, yvonne.stephens@montgomerycollege.edu or Prof. Patricia Ruppert, 240-567-5242, patricia.ruppert@montgomerycollege.edu. For more on the author/workshop, go to http://thepoetspeaks.com/index_files/Super_Woman_Page.htm. For disability services, call Prof. Cathy Wilson, 240-567-1475.

CATEGORIES: Calendar
POSTED: Friday, March 18, 2011 | 1:00:00 AM |

A Close Call on a Windy Day

The 2011 President’s Day weekend will be remembered by many in western Montgomery County not for the Monday holiday or the predicted snowfall Monday night. Instead it was raging winds feeding wildfires that spread across 500 acres of land on Saturday the 19th.

With assistance from firefighters in neighboring jurisdictions, over 300 Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service personnel worked through the day and into the evening to contain the blaze from spreading. Over 70 structures were directly threatened by the blaze and firefighters worked tirelessly to keep the fire from spreading to occupied structures. Eight firefighters sustained minor injuries, but there was no loss of life.

County Executive Ike Leggett viewed the damage with DFRS officials from a helicopter.

The photos show ground-level and aerial perspectives of the extensive nature of the fire and just how close a call it was for some residents.The aerial photo shows the Green Meadow - Colton Lane area and the ground level shot was taken in the Indian Grass Drive neighborhood. DFRS photos.

See more Germantown Brush Fire photos from February 19 and 20.

CATEGORIES: Public Safety , Environmental
POSTED: Wednesday, March 02, 2011 | 7:45:00 AM |

Being Good Neighbors

Residents interested in learning about upcoming new laws affecting the residential character of their neighborhoods are invited to attend any one of five upcoming meetings to be held around the County in March.

The new laws that will go into effect later in the Spring will address the following issues: home-based businesses; parking for heavy commercial and recreational vehicles; off-street parking; and paving of front yards.

The meetings will be held according to the following schedule:

  • Wednesday, March 2, 7:15 p.m. -- Eastern Montgomery Regional Services Center, 3300 Briggs Chaney Rd., Silver Spring;
  • Monday, March 7, 7 p.m. -- Upcounty Regional Services Center, 12900 Middlebrook Rd., Germantown;
  • Tuesday, March 8, 7 p.m. -- Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor La., Bethesda;
  • Thursday, March 10, 7:30 p.m. -- Silver Spring Regional Services Center, Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Place; and
  • Tuesday, March 15, 7 p.m. -- Mid-County Regional Services Center, 2424 Reedie Dr., Wheaton.

For more information about any of these meetings, call the Office of Public Information at 240-777-6507 or see the flyer in English and Spanish.

CATEGORIES: Community Forum
POSTED: Wednesday, March 02, 2011 | 7:30:00 AM |

Leggett Hosts Newly Elected Prince George’s County Executive and DC Mayor

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.

CATEGORIES: County Executive
POSTED: Wednesday, March 02, 2011 | 7:15:00 AM |

Executive Submits Recommendations on Organizational Reform Commission Report

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.

CATEGORIES: County Executive
POSTED: Wednesday, March 02, 2011 | 7:00:00 AM |

The Transit Task Force: Developing a Protocol Blueprint for Countywide Rapid Transit System

Working toward making a comprehensive rapid transit system a reality in the local community, County Executive Ike Leggett has launched a Transit Task Force that will advocate for developing and implementing a system that is consistent with state transportation objectives and complements regional transit operations.

The Task Force is the only organization focused exclusively on making a comprehensive rapid transit system in Montgomery County a reality for its residents and businesses.

The 20-member group’s mission is to advise the County Executive on how to achieve his vision and to be advocates for developing and implementing a world-class, County-wide, rapid transit system that is safe, efficient and effectively moves people throughout the County.

The system will provide improved mobility for its riders, improve the County’s quality of life, stimulate economic development in the County, and improve air quality, and reduce greenhouse gases and energy consumption.

Read more from press release.

CATEGORIES: Transportation
POSTED: Wednesday, March 02, 2011 | 6:00:00 AM |

County Urges Public Service Commission Crackdown on Pepco

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.

CATEGORIES: County Executive
POSTED: Wednesday, March 02, 2011 | 5:00:00 AM |

2010 Census:Montgomery County Grows and Grows More Diverse

According to recently released 2010 U.S. Census data, Montgomery County’s population has grown more diverse over the last decade, becoming a majority-minority county for the first time. The figures are based on 50.7 percent of residents identifying themselves as Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Asian or Pacific Islander or an ethnicity other than non-Hispanic White.

Of the estimated 971,777 people living in Montgomery County, the Census data breaks down the population as follows:

  • 49.3 percent non-Hispanic White, down 7.8 percent in the last decade
  • 17 percent Hispanic or Latino, up 64.4 percent in the last decade
  • 16.6 percent Black or African American, up 25 percent in the last decade
  • 13.9 percent Asian and Pacific Islander, up 37.5 percent in the last decade

For more data about population trends in Montgomery and neighboring counties, visit www.montgomeryplanning.org/research/data_library/census/2010/

CATEGORIES: Census
POSTED: Wednesday, March 02, 2011 | 4:00:00 AM |

What Residents Should Know About Consolidating the Park and County Police

Eight months ago, the Montgomery County Council formed the Montgomery County Organizational Reform Commission with the mandate to recommend ways to restructure the way County agencies do business to save money and increase efficiency.

One of the Commission’s primary recommendations is to consolidate the Park Police and the Montgomery County Police Department

Not only will the consolidation save taxpayers at least $2 million a year, but will enhance the efficiency of communication and improve response times in a vast majority of County parks. The merger also will make additional County Police officers available to provide support and respond to calls for services in the parks.

Read more details (pdf) about the benefits of consolidation.

CATEGORIES: Public Safety , Budget
POSTED: Wednesday, March 02, 2011 | 3:00:00 AM |

WORTH NOTING

Two MTA Bus Routes Travel the ICC

On March 1, the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) began service of two new intercity bus routes along the newly opened portion of the InterCounty Connector (ICC) toll road (MD Rt. 200).

Routes 201 and 202 will begin at the Gaithersburg Park and Ride lot and follow Phase 1 of the ICC to the Shady Grove Metro station and the Norbeck Park and Ride, where the ICC ends for now. From there, MTA Bus Route 201 will stop at the Burtonsville Park and Ride and Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport's Southwest and International terminals before ending at the BWI MARC/Amtrak station.

MTA Bus Route 202 will make stops at the Savage MARC station and the National Security Agency before ending at Fort Meade.

Both services will be free for the first two weeks. After that, the fare will be $5.00 for a one-way trip. For more information on this new bus service visit MTA's website.


Good Grades Count: Honor Roll Students Skate Free

Now through March 8, Montgomery County students who made the honor roll last semester can get a free skating pass – with skates – at the Silver Spring Skating Rink at Veterans Plaza, 8523 Fenton St.

Students must bring their MCPS report card and student ID.


Teeing Up Your Time and Golf Talents for the Next Generation

The First Tee, Montgomery County uses golf as platform to teach young people how to be successful on and off the course by focusing on youth who would not typically have access to the game and its opportunities

The First Tee is looking for volunteers who enjoy and play golf to assist with the skills instruction for youth ranging in age from eight to 17 years. Spring and fall sessions are held after school, while summer sessions are scheduled during morning hours.

Primary instructional sites are: Laytonsville, Needwood, Northwest and Sligo Creek golf courses and Olney Golf Park. Volunteers are eligible for discounted golf rates Monday through Thursday at the Montgomery County Golf course where he/she volunteers.

Montgomery County Government is a sponsor of First Tee, Montgomery County. The organization’s partners include the Department of Recreation, Montgomery County Golf, an entity of the Montgomery County Revenue Authority, and the Housing Opportunities Commission.

For more information about The First Tee, Montgomery County, visit www.thefirstteemcmd.org. If you are interested in becoming a First Tee volunteer and/or mentor, contact Laura Sildon at laura@thefirstteemcmd.org.


Take a Look: New One-Stop Online Source Highlights County Health Data

A new one-stop online source for population-based data and information about community health and the social and environmental determinants of health has been launched by County officials.

The website -- www.healthymontgomery.org -- provides data and information on more than 90 topics related to the health and well being of the community and its residents.

"Having reliable data on which to base our budget decisions on is critical, especially in these lean budget years,” said Uma Ahluwalia, director of theDepartment of Health and Human Services. “In addition, this website will be a great resource for students, health planners and the public.”

Read more from press release.


 

Integrated BioTherapeutics Expands in Montgomery County

Integrated BioTherapeutics Inc. (IBT), a biotechnology company developing medical countermeasures for biodefense and emerging infectious diseases, recently celebrated the expansion of their Bioservices capacity with the Grand Opening of a new 10,500 square-foot office and lab space in the Gaithersburg Accelerator, located at 21 Firstfield Rd.

The new facility features a dedicated suite of labs to support IBT’s research and development for a multivalent vaccine for Staph aureus infection.

IBT currently has 30 full-time employees and plans to add an additional five to 10 employees within the next year. IBT was named “Maryland’s 2009 Emerging Company of the Year” by the Tech Council of Maryland, which recognized the company’s tremendous growth in funding and personnel and its strong relationships with the U.S. Government and industry partners.

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Anne Arundel County’s Ambulance Fee Generates $8.5 million

Since becoming law in April 2009, the fee charged to insurance companies for ambulance transport in Anne Arundel County has generated $8.5 million, according to County Executive John R. Leopold.

"I am pleased that our Fire Department has been able to execute this program without negatively impacting citizens’ access to emergency medical services. Insurance companies are now bearing their fair share of the cost of providing essential services previously borne solely by taxpayers," said Leopold.

Under the Anne Arundel legislation that became effective in 2009, insurance companies are billed $500 per ambulance transport. Deposits began in earnest in January 2010 and now average roughly $525,000 per month. County residents do not pay any portion of the fee not covered by insurance. Medicaid, Medicare and most other private insurance policies already allowed for reimbursement for this service.

CATEGORIES: Worth Noting , Transportation
POSTED: Wednesday, March 02, 2011 | 2:00:00 AM |

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

March 10 – Public Meeting on the Draft Countywide Coordinated Implementation Strategy designed to protect local streams and the Chesapeake Bay.6 to 9 p.m. Rockville Memorial Library, 21 Maryland Ave. The Department of Environmental Protection invites the public to attend and provide comments. There will be a presentation on the strategy and watershed implementation plans, an opportunity to review maps and figures for the individual watersheds, and a formal public comment period. In addition to commenting at the meeting, residents have 30 days to submit comments, with a deadline of 5 p.m. on Friday, March 25. All comments presented at the meeting or submitted by email or in writing will become part of the public record. Comments may be emailed to: MS4permitplans@montgomerycountymd.gov or sent to Meo Curtis, DEP, 255 Rockville Pike, Suite 120, Rockville MD 20850.Electronic versions of the strategy and individual watershed implementation plans are available on the DEP website . A reference copy is also available at the Rockville Memorial Library Reference Section.

CATEGORIES: Calendar
POSTED: Wednesday, March 02, 2011 | 1:00:00 AM |
News and Information from Montgomery County Government, Public Information Office.
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Last edited: 11/8/2010