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Five Steps More To Putting Montgomery’s Fiscal House In Order

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.

CATEGORIES: County Executive , County Council
POSTED: Friday, July 23, 2010 | 6:00:00 AM |

Judges Needed for 2010 Elections

Montgomery County’s Board of Elections is seeking individuals to serve as election judges at polling places for the Gubernatorial Elections to be held on September 14 and November 2, 2010.

In accordance with the Election Code, judges must be registered to vote in the State of Maryland. They must also be able to speak, read, and write the English language, and while acting as a judge must not hold, or be a candidate for, public or party office. In addition, election judges may not serve as a campaign manager for a candidate or as treasurer for any campaign financial entity.

Specifically, voters registered as either Republican or Unaffiliated, and those voters bilingual in Spanish are needed throughout the County; there is no current need for Democratic affiliated judges as all positions have been filled. Training will be provided and all judges will be compensated for Election Day.

To apply, or for more information, visit the Board of Elections website at www.777vote.org and select the Election Judge link.

CATEGORIES: Election
POSTED: Friday, July 23, 2010 | 5:00:00 AM |

Leggett Testifies on CountyStat Before US Senate Committee

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).

CATEGORIES: County Executive
POSTED: Friday, July 23, 2010 | 4:00:00 AM |

WORTH NOTING

CountyStat Updates

To help residents understand how CountyStat impacts them, The Paperless Airplane will feature regular updates on positive performance measures turned in by County departments.

You can learn more about CountyStat and view the data driven presentations addressing a range of high priority subjects at the CountyStat website www.montgomerycountymd.gov/CountyStat.

Meanwhile, here’s good news from the Fire and Rescue Service and the Department of Recreation.

County Fire and Rescue Service on Pace to Outperform Performance Projection

As part of the annual CountyStat departmental performance review process, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) recently presented their annual performance update to the Chief Administrative Officer.

Of particular note was the drastic improvement in MCFRS performance on, “Percent of Residential Structure Fires Contained to the Room of Origin.” This is a very critical measure, since a residential structure fire doubles in size for each minute of fire growth with no suppression actions.

Historically, MCFRS’s success rate for containing residential structure fire to its room of origin ranged between 62% and 71%. Through the first three quarters of Fiscal Year 2010, MCFRS performance in this area improved drastically and now has achieved an 85.7% success rate.

For more information on Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service’s FY10 performance strategies and to view the recent CountyStat presentation on MCFRS results, please click the following link. FY2010 MCFRS Performance Review

Recreation Department’s Support of Positive Youth Development Initiative Pays Off

Since Fiscal Year 2007, the Department of Recreation has surveyed participants in their Sports Academies programs to gauge the impact of the programming on participants’ ability to make positive life choices.

Each fiscal year, an increasing portion of participants has reported benefiting from participating. In Fiscal Year 2007, 55% of participants reported benefiting from programming, 67% in Fiscal Year 2008, and 73% in Fiscal Year 2009. Currently, the Department of Recreation is on track to report that 77% of the  Sports Academies participants are reporting program benefits.

The figures document the County’s commitment to improving the ability of youth to make positive life choices through the use of effective and efficient prevention programming.


Voter Registration Drives on Saturdays at Public Libraries

The Montgomery County Board of Elections will conduct voter registration drives on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at public libraries throughout the County during July and August.

For a complete schedule visit www.777vote.org and click on Press Releases.

For additional information, contact Dr. Gilberto Zelaya at 240-777-8532; or email Gilberto.zelaya@montgomerycountymd.gov.


Affordable Counseling Sessions at Commission for Women’s Center

The County Commission for Women’s Counseling and Career Center provides short-term goal-oriented personal counseling to help persons deal with anxiety, stress, and emotional issues relating to separation and divorce, loss, low self-esteem and difficult transitions.

Counselors are available for one-on-one sessions to help you cope with:

  • job loss career planning
  • entering or re-entering the workforce
  • job retention
  • career advancement
  • goal setting
  • skill identification
  • interviewing techniques
  • networking skills
  • resume development

Counseling fees are $50 each, and a sliding scale discount is available. Credit cards, check, or money order are accepted. To schedule an appointment, call 240-777-8300.


Gallery in New Civic Building Named in Memory of Betty Mae Kramer

During opening ceremonies for the new Civic Building at Veterans Plaza in downtown Silver Spring, County Executive Ike Leggett announced that the gallery in the building will be named the Betty Mae Kramer Gallery and Music Room as a tribute to the former First Lady of Montgomery County.

Kramer, who passed away in March of this year, led the volunteer efforts to establish the Executive’s Ball for the Benefit of the Arts in 1986 when her husband, the Honorable Sidney Kramer, was elected County Executive. Since then, the ball has raised more than $1 million to benefit a variety of nonprofit arts and humanities organizations.

The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC), the non-profit arts agency designated to distribute County funds for arts and humanities, will manage the Gallery and Music Room.

The Kramer family has given a leadership gift to begin an endowment fund to be established by AHCMC to manage the gallery and music room in perpetuity. Additional donations are being sought from others who wish to honor Mrs. Kramer’s contribution to Montgomery County.

To donate to the Betty Mae Kramer Gallery and Music Room, contact Suzan Jenkins, CEO of AHCMC, at 301-565-3805 ext. 23.


Burtonsville VFD Celebrates New Addition

County Executive Ike Leggett recently joined Fire Chief Richard Bowers and members of the Burtonsville Volunteer Fire Department (BVFD) to celebrate the new 2,400 sq. ft. addition to the existing facility located at the intersection of Briggs Chaney Rd. and Old Columbia Pike. The station opened in March 1995.

Some of the features of the newly-constructed addition include permanent sleeping accommodations for firefighters assigned to the station; a new training and meeting room with audio/visual equipment that will also serve as a multi-purpose room for the community; new laundry facilities; and additional parking spaces.

For more information, contact Assistant Chief Scott Graham at 240-777-2493.


Our Readers Say…

“Wow!  This is the most informative, easiest to read email I’ve ever received.  Love the crisp, easy to read, user friendly format and presentation of the info.  Lately I’ve been unsubscribing to various types of email lists I’ve somehow gotten onto over the years, but not this one.  It’s a keeper.” CS

“Just a quick note of praise for The Paperless Airplane newsletter. I enjoy the content, photos and graphics, and the user-friendly, digital format.” BL

“Congratulations on The Paperless Airplane -- it is both informative and interesting.” SL

“…the “PA” is a great way to get information out about County and related topics.” CD

“I’m a journalist who lives in Montgomery County, and I just wanted to take a second to complement you on The Paperless Airplane. The format’s attractive. It’s simple to read. And you and your staff do a great job boiling down what residents need to know in one short format. I’m also my local PTA President and have posted some of your info our listservs for parents.”  TP

“The first issue of Paperless Airplane is excellent due to the clever name and easy to read format. I look forward to the next issue. Good job.” SF


Our Readers Suggest…

I hesitate to open email from unknown senders. MCG didn’t ring any bells, at least at first. I did a search [but]… neither helped. Then somehow MCG seemed somewhat familiar - and I did open the email. (Nice newsletter.) …so maybe you could change your subject line or return address to be more enlightening.  SM

Certainly a valid point. You will notice that the return address for each issue now reads: “Paperless Airplane: eNewsletter from Montgomery County Public Information Office.”  Thanks for the feedback.

CATEGORIES: Worth Noting
POSTED: Friday, July 23, 2010 | 3:00:00 AM |

MAKING NEWS

We’re #1

The Center for Digital Government has posted the results of its 2010 Digital Counties Survey and -- drum roll, please -- Montgomery County was rated first in the country for counties of 500,000 population and more (Press Release)

This was the first year that it was not about IT technologies alone, but the impact of the adoption of technologies and the resulting benefits to the organization and citizens.    

"Being recognized as the top digital government in the nation is an honor, and it is a reflection of my commitment to making Montgomery County government more responsive and accessible to the people who live here,” said County Executive Ike Leggett who joined Chief Administrative Officer Timothy Firestine in congratulating the County’s Chief Information Officer E. Steve Emanuel (next to Leggett in photo) and his Department of Technology Services team, including Victoria Lewis who holds the award. 

In an article on the winners in Government Technology, Todd Sander, director of the Center for Digital Government’s Digital Communities program that conducted the survey, said, “Projects that were motivated to bring transparency got high marks from the judges, and one such project put Montgomery County in first place in the 500,000 or more population category. The county measured its IT functionality against benchmarks and published the data on its portal, unlike some other applicants.”

The Digital Counties Survey is conducted in partnership with the National Association of Counties (NACo) annually in the spring.  All U.S. counties are invited to participate, and the awards are presented during NACO’s annual conference each July. Last year Montgomery County tied for second place with Sacramento County, CA.

The full article on the 2010 winners is at http://www.govtech.com/gt/articles/766229


County Receives State Award for Promoting Transportation Options

Governor Martin O’Malley recently awarded MCDOT his 2010 Smart, Green and Growing Award for encouraging transportation choices. The award praised Transit’s Commuter Services’ efforts and Traffic’s Advanced Transportation Management System.

The County was commended for creating Transportation Management Districts; developing incentives to employers who help fund employees’ transit costs or telework programs; and effectively marketing transit, the Guaranteed Ride Home program, and bike-to-work events.

MCDOT was also recognized for its Advanced Transportation Management System. By locating Ride On central communications with the traffic and emergency operations centers, the County efficiently uses intelligent transportation components to monitor conditions, adjust traffic signals, respond to incidents, and re-route buses when necessary.

For more information, go to the MCDOT’s website or call 311.


County Liquor Control’s “Keeping It Safe” Program Recognized by National Association of Counties

Montgomery County’s Department of Liquor Control (DLC) has received a 2010 National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Award for its “Keeping It Safe (KIS),” program. A comprehensive educational program aimed at both the hospitality industry and the community, the KIS initiative is comprised of numerous awareness programs and tools, and is a model for the state of Maryland.

KIS tools include training and distributing information to adults in the community, including identification checking calendars, point-of-sale signage, monthly bulletins promoting responsible hospitality, and under 21 alcohol prevention information. All resources are grant funded and offered free of cost.

NACo’s annual awards program recognizes efforts by local jurisdictions that promote responsible, responsive, and effective county government. This is the third straight year that DLC has won achievement awards for its community outreach programs.

For more information, contact Kathie Durbin at DLC, 240-777-1917.


Consumer Protection Director Named by Governor to State’s Collection Agency Licensing Board

Eric Friedman, director of Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection, has been appointed by Governor Martin O’Malley to serve a four-year term as a consumer representative on Maryland’s Collection Agency Licensing Board within the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, Division of Financial Regulation.

The board has statutory responsibility for the licensing of collection agencies operating in Maryland and addresses written complaints, conducts hearings on alleged violations, mediates disputes, and issues orders requiring licensees to correct violations. Comprised of two consumer representatives and two industry representatives, the board informs both licensees and the public about abusive debt collection practices.

CATEGORIES: Making News
POSTED: Friday, July 23, 2010 | 2:00:00 AM |

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Monday, July 26Dine Out for Literacy. Treat yourself to dinner or take-out from the Silver Diner, 11806 Rockville Pike, between 5 and 8 p.m. and the Literacy Council of Montgomery County will receive a percentage of all sales. LCMC volunteers will be there to greet, serve, and hand out information to diners. This is a great way to show your support for the LCMC, so bring your family and friends and help raise money for literacy programs.

Thursday, July 29 -- Silver Spring Swings Summer Concert Series 2010 & Community Celebrations features a Latin/rock program by Patrick Alban and Noche Latina. Come and show your appreciation of the community’s Business and Entrepreneurial spirit. 7-9 p.m. Veterans Plaza @ the Civic Building, Fenton St. and Ellsworth Dr. in downtown Silver Spring. www.silverspringdowntown.com.

August 5 -- Silver Spring Swings Summer Concert Series 2010 & Community Celebrations presents a program of world jazz by The David Bach Consort. Celebrate the arts and nonprofits/charities/faith community. 7-9 p.m. Veterans Plaza @ the Civic Building, Fenton St. and Ellsworth Dr., downton Silver Spring. www.silverspringdowntown.com

CATEGORIES: Calendar
POSTED: Friday, July 23, 2010 | 1:00:00 AM |

Mandatory Water Restrictions are in Effect for WSSC Customers

For the next few days while the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) repairs a major water main in Montgomery County, water supplies will be reduced by about 30 percent. There will be enough water for most indoor water uses. However, it is essential that WSSC customers conserve water whenever possible so that fire and rescue services, hospitals and other emergency services will be unaffected.

Residents who get their water from the Rockville and Poolesville municipal systems or those who have well water are not affected.


Until the mandatory restrictions are lifted, here’s what you need to know:

Outdoor Water Use is Banned

  • Lawn watering
  • Homeowner car washing
  • Filling or topping off private pools
  • Washing outdoor paved surfaces

Conserve Water Indoors

  • Use dishwashers and washing machines with full loads only.
  • Decrease shower time.
  • Turn off the water while shaving or brushing teeth.
  • Take this opportunity to check all faucets, pipes and toilets for leaks and repair them. Leaks can waste 10 percent of a household’s water use.
  • Install a low-flow shower head if you don’t already have one to save water and energy.

Here are answers to some questions you might have:

If the problem is in Potomac, why do all customers need to conserve?
The 96-inch main is a major transmission main within WSSC’s distribution system. If customers do not conserve, some users could experience a drop in water pressure.

Will the quality of my water be affected?
No. WSSC will continue to supply safe, clean drinking water while repairs are made.

Could this affect fire protection?
Yes, if people don’t conserve and water pressure drops. WSSC is in contact with local fire departments so they can take appropriate measures.

Are swimming pools affected? Yes. All pools are included in the restrictions; public, private and commercial should not be topping off and should refrain from any non-essential use of water.


How do I report a violation of the restrictions?
In Montgomery County, call 311. Your call will then be referred to the appropriate enforcement agency for follow up.

Where can I get more information?
Check the County website www.montgomerycountymd.gov for updates (remember to refresh your browser) or call the WSSC Emergency Call Center at 301-206-4002; Toll free: 1-800-828-6439; TTY: 301-206-8345.

CATEGORIES: Code Enforcement
POSTED: Thursday, July 01, 2010 | 10:00:00 AM |

MC 311 Answering to You

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.  

CATEGORIES: County Executive
POSTED: Thursday, July 01, 2010 | 9:50:00 AM |

Celebrations to Light Up July 4

Montgomery County will again this year host two Independence Day fireworks displays on Sunday, July 4. 

Germantown Glory will be held at the SoccerPlex in the South Germantown Recreational Park, 18041 Central Park Circle. A concert by Bobby and the Believers will begin at 7 p.m., with fireworks at approximately 9:30 p.m. 

 For soccer fans, an added treat -- at 5 p.m. the Washington Freedom will play the Chicago Red Stars. Residents are advised to plan ahead and expect heavy traffic around the park.

Mid-County Sparkles will be held at Albert Einstein High School, 11135 Newport Rd., Kensington. Pre-fireworks activities will include children’s activities and a musical concert with Groove Killers beginning at 7:30 p.m.  Fireworks will begin at approximately 9:15 p.m. 

There will be no on-site parking at either school or at adjacent properties, except for handicapped parking. Shuttle buses will pick up passengers, beginning at 6:15 p.m., at Westfield Wheaton and the Wheaton Metro Station.

More information on the Germantown Glory and Mid-County Sparkles celebrations, including directions, is available on the County home page at www.montgomerycountmd,gov.

CATEGORIES: Calendar
POSTED: Thursday, July 01, 2010 | 9:00:00 AM |

Downtown Silver Spring to Celebrate Opening of New Civic Building at Veterans Plaza

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.

CATEGORIES: Arts , County Executive
POSTED: Thursday, July 01, 2010 | 8:00:00 AM |

The Annual Farm Tour and Harvest Sale -- A Great Family Outing and Educational Experience

 

Montgomery County will celebrate its agricultural heritage, promote local farms and indulge in seasonally fresh food during the 21st Annual Farm Tour and Harvest Sale. 

Fourteen farms will participate this year on Saturday July 24, and 10 will reopen for a second day on Sunday, July 25.  The farms will be open both days from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will take place rain or shine; however, if it rains, some events and activities scheduled at the farms may be delayed or cancelled.  This year, the tour also coincides with the Buy Local Challenge which encourages people to eat locally grown food.

Residents can purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, plants and other local products. Several farms have hayrides, pony rides, music, demonstrations and other fun and educational activities planned for people of all ages.  

See The Farm Tour and Harvest Sale brochure at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/farmtour or for additional information, call
301-590-2823.   

CATEGORIES: Calendar
POSTED: Thursday, July 01, 2010 | 7:00:00 AM |

When Blue Means ’Green’

Montgomery County’s fleet of blue trash and recycling trucks has gone green.

County Executive Ike Leggett and Environmental Protection Director Bob Hoyt recently took the opportunity at the County’s refueling station on Crabbs Branch Way to announce that the 100-truck trash and recycling fleet is being converted to compressed natural gas vehicles, making Montgomery County the first in Maryland to do so.

Also participating in the announcement were employees of Unity Disposal and Recycling, the County’s collection contractor.

To date, 20 of the bright blue trucks with posters on the side promoting the benefits of CNG and recycling are in service on some routes in the County. Another 20 will be on the road by July 1 and the remaining 60 trucks will be phased in over the next two years.

Read more about the new “green fleet” and its benefits. Press Release. 

CATEGORIES: Environmental
POSTED: Thursday, July 01, 2010 | 6:00:00 AM |

Reported Gang Incidents Continue to Drop in County

Following a trend that began two years ago, the number of reported gang incidents in Montgomery County has continued its decline into the first quarter of 2010.

In the first three months of this year, 54 gang incidents were reported in the County, compared to 92 in the first quarter of 2009 and 58 incidents in the final quarter of 2009.

From a total high of 507 recorded in 2007, the number of reported incidents dropped to 442 in 2008 with an even larger dip to 285 in 2009.

To see the reports from the last few years, go to Special Investigations Division on the Police Department website.

CATEGORIES: Public Safety
POSTED: Thursday, July 01, 2010 | 5:00:00 AM |

Summertime Safety Tips and A Fireworks Reminder

sun

Like the other seasons, summer is filled with all sorts of pleasures, but those pleasures can come with problems, as well – warm weather/heat waves; cookouts/grill problems; pool fun/pool accidents; picnics/unsafe foods.

The County’s homepage contains a number of Summertime Safety Tips for you, your family and your pets.

And, with the approach of the July 4th Holiday, the Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) reminds residents that ALL fireworks are illegal in Montgomery County.  MCFRS says that in spite of recent changes in Maryland law that allows the sale, possession and use of "ground-based sparkling devices" in many parts of Maryland, no change has occurred in the law in Montgomery and Prince George's counties and Baltimore City.

Possession or use of fireworks is unlawful and subject to a $500 fine upon conviction. Selling of fireworks is unlawful and subject to $1,000 fine upon conviction. If anyone has knowledge of a crime associated with arson, fireworks and explosive devices they are asked to contact the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service at 240-777-2263.

The safest way for you and your family to celebrate the holiday is to take in one of the many fireworks displays planned for the area.

For additional safety information, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/mcsafe.

CATEGORIES: Code Enforcement , Environmental
POSTED: Thursday, July 01, 2010 | 4:00:00 AM |

County Executive Ike Leggett’s Comments on Council Approval of New County Fiscal & Reserve Policy

“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.”
CATEGORIES: County Executive , Budget
POSTED: Thursday, July 01, 2010 | 3:00:00 AM |

WORTH NOTING

Recycling/Trash Collections on Normal Schedule on Independence Day Holiday

The Division of Solid Waste Services reminds residents that all County-provided recycling and trash collections will be made on Monday, July 5 according to the normal schedule, so there will be no holiday slide that week.

The Transfer Station and Poolesville Beauty Spot will be closed July 4. But, the Transfer Station will be open for operations on Monday, July 5.

See holiday details for the complete list of holiday-related collection schedules for 2010, as well as the schedule for operations at the Transfer Station.

Also, to help you plan your holiday weekend activities, check the status of other County services, programs and facilities.


New Hours and Changes in Policies and Fees at Libraries

Effective Tuesday, July 6, Montgomery County Public Libraries will institute the new hours brought about by cuts to the FY2011 Operating Budget.

Although the changes represent an overall reduction in library hours, the new schedule will provide consistent hours of operation at library branches throughout the system and extend hours on Friday and Saturday evenings until 6 p.m. The hours at Noyes Library for Young Children Library will remain unchanged.

See the new hours at your local branch and learn about the changes in policies and fees that will go into effect July 6. Press Release


Total Crime Decreased in 2009

Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger has announced that total crime for 2009 decreased 6.2%.

While the Part I crime statistics, those for murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and auto theft, were released on April 15, the compilation of Part II crime statistics was delayed and have been released.

The Part II crimes include: minor assaults, arson, forgery-counterfeiting, bad checks, embezzlement, stolen property, vandalism, weapons offenses, prostitution, sex offenses, controlled dangerous substance violations, gambling, family offenses, juvenile offenses, liquor law violations, disorderly conduct, suicide, and non-traffic offenses.

The total year-end crime statistics for 2009 are:

  • Part I Crime decreased by 6.8% (from 26,975 to 25,132)
  • Part II Crime decreased by 5.8% (from 45,518 to 42,895)
  • Overall, Total Crime (Part I & Part II) decreased by 6.2% (from 72,493 to 68,027)

A copy of the crimes statistics, as well as previous statistics, is available on the Montgomery County Police website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/police.  Go to the Crime Statistics headline in the area below the chief's photo. 

A written copy is available from the Montgomery County Police Headquarters Media Services Division at 2350 Research Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20850.


Montgomery's Smart Growth Successes

Montgomery is one of four Maryland counties whose Smart Growth successes have been documented in a series of booklets produced by the Maryland Department of Planning.

The opening of the 12-page publication states that “Montgomery County is regarded as a national model for Smart Growth,” citing its “pioneering policies on affordable housing, transit-oriented development and traditional “New Urbanist” subdivisions.

The booklet includes a map and 10 examples of Smart Growth developments and projects around the County.

http://planning.maryland.gov/OurWork/smartgrowth.shtml


Get Downtown Wheaton on the Go

The Wheaton Urban District has launched a mobile version of the downtown Wheaton website for use on smart phones such as iPhone, Blackberry and Android. The application allows downtown Wheaton residents and visitors to locate restaurants, shopping and events in the area instantly wherever they are.

The Wheaton Urban District is the first such district in Montgomery County to feature a mobile website application.

The application is viewable on any mobile phone that has a web browser. One can access the application easily by visiting http://wheatonmd.org.


Transportation’s Annual Report Online

MCDOT has published its online 2010 Annual Report.  It begins with a discussion of the accomplishments of the Transportation Department in the last fiscal year. 

A section entitled “Directions” features new initiatives and pilot programs the department will be implementing this fiscal year and beyond.  Read about cell phone-based technology being tested as a new way to pay for parking and see how the County’s keeping some traffic signals fully operational even when the power fails.

See the report at Community Outreach publications website.


Summer Programs in Libraries

A variety of exciting programs will be presented at Montgomery County Public Libraries  from the week of July 12 through August 24. Programs will include Grammy-award winning folk music artists Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, The Maryland Science Center, Reptiles Alive!, magicians Mike Rose and Joe Romano, and popular children’s performer Tracey Eldridge.

The summer programs are funded by the Friends of the Library, Montgomery County, Inc. and many local Friends of the Library chapters.

A complete list of the programs and events, including registration information, is on the library website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/library in the Spotlight section or by clicking on the Check Us Out! icon. Also, call Ask-a-Librarian/Línea en otros idiomas at 240-777-0001. TTY users call Maryland Relay at 7-1-1.


DEP Seeks Public Input on Stream Improvement Programs Through Online Survey

The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) invites the public to participate in an online survey to gauge public opinion and knowledge of programs related to maintaining and improving the health of streams. 

DEP will use the information to develop a Public Outreach and Stewardship Plan to educate residents, instruct them in actions they can take, and engage their help in meeting the County’s watershed improvement goals.

The survey should take no more than five minutes and will be available until July 30 at www.surveymonkey.com/WRIS


County Now Recognizes More Minority Business Certifications

Montgomery County has expanded the recognized Minority, Female, Disabled-owned business certifications beyond the program administered by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and will now also recognize the certifications issued by the Maryland/District of Columbia Minority Supplier Development Council and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. 

Under Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett’s procurement reform legislation passed by the County Council earlier this year, the Department of General Services Director was given authority to approve other minority business certification programs in addition to MDOT’s. 

Read more details at press release.

Montgomery’s Smart Growth SuccessesTotal Crime Decreased in 2009 New Hours and Changes in Policies and Fees at Libraries
CATEGORIES: Worth Noting
POSTED: Thursday, July 01, 2010 | 2:00:00 AM |

MAKING NEWS

County’s Foreclosure Prevention Program Recognized as Best Government Initiative

Montgomery County’s comprehensive approach to prevent foreclosures has been recognized with the Best Government Initiative Award from the Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers.

The award recognizes the comprehensive approach taken by the County’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA) to prevent foreclosures, mitigate their impact and preserve affordable housing. 

DHCA’s initiatives include providing $9.5 million to nonprofit developers and the Housing Opportunities Commission to acquire, rehabilitate and sell or rent foreclosed homes; organizing meetings for at-risk home buyers; offering housing counseling; working with area banks and realtors; matching state foreclosure prevention funding; enhancing code enforcement; and hosting an annual Housing Fair and Financial Fitness Day.

Friends of the Library Montgomery County, Inc. Honored with Six Awards by National Association

In recognition of its outstanding publicity and marketing materials, Friends of the Library, Montgomery County (FOLMC) has been honored by the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations with Best Friends Awards in six categories.

FOLMC received awards in the categories of: Print Newsletter; Membership: Brochures; Membership: Other Materials (membership cards); Advocacy Materials; Program Publicity; and Fundraisers.

Winning materials can be viewed by visiting www.ala.org, click on Divisions, scroll to Assoc. of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations, and enter Best Friends Awards in the Search box.

CATEGORIES: Making News
POSTED: Thursday, July 01, 2010 | 1:00:00 AM |
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Last edited: 11/8/2010