Montgomery in Focus Masthead
February 2013

 

SNAP the Silence Challenge

Will you join me in the SNAP the Silence Challenge led by Councilmember Valerie Ervin? I, along with many other elected officials and County residents, will experience what it is like to live on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formally known as the Food Stamp Program. Thatís just five dollars per day.

I understand that putting food on the table is just one of the many challenges faced by low-income working families, but I think that living on a SNAP budget will give me a different perspective and level of understanding about the struggles faced by those whose wages are too low to lift them out of poverty. Please join me February 4-8.

Here are the challenge guidelines.

  1. Spend only a total of $5 per day for all food and beverage during the challenge week.
  2. Count in your total spending all food purchased and eaten during the challenge week, including fast food and dining out.
  3. Only eat food that you purchase for the project. Do not eat food that you already own (this does not include spices and condiments).
  4. Avoid accepting free food from friends, family or at work, including at receptions, parties or other events where food is served.
  5. Keep track of receipts on food spending and take note of your experiences throughout the week.

 

Letter to Governor on Electric Reliability

Nancy Floreen and others in front of a house damaged by storm.This joint letter to the Governor from the County Executive and the County Council is a good step in the right direction in our efforts to ensure reliable electricity service in Montgomery County. In it, we support much of the Grid Resiliency Task Force's report and suggest further measures. Kudos to Ike Leggett for his work on this. Here's the full text of the letter:

January 16, 2013

Dear Governor O'Malley:

We are writing to say how pleased we are regarding your filing of the Report of the Grid Resiliency Task Force ("Report") released October 3, 2012 and your continuing concern with the reliability of the electricity distribution system in Maryland. As you know, Montgomery County has long been concerned about the reliability and resiliency of the electric system that serves the residents and businesses of Montgomery County.

We share the principles guiding the recommendations in the Report (p. 6) and many of the recommendations in the Report are ones Montgomery County has fought for in the past. In particular, Montgomery County agrees with the need for the Major Outage Event Reports (as well as other reports) to provide more detail "to allow regulators or other interested parties to make specific recommendations regarding hardening systems, improving operational flexibility,or reducing restoration times" (p. 76).

Montgomery County, however, asks that you, through the Public Service Commission (PSC), take two additional steps: 1) require PSC Staff to perform a formal review of the Major Outage Event Reports (and all other reports) submitted by utilities to confirm compliance with the Regulations (the PSC should invite public comment as part of this review process); and 2) the PSC should issue findings at the conclusion of its review and these findings should indicate,based on the report, what quartile ofreliability the electric utility filing the report is on track to achieve.

Montgomery County also respectfully disagrees with the Report's recommendation to allow for a tracker cost recovery mechanism. The County has opposed this type of mechanism in the past and continues to maintain that Pepco should have to show that the money it spends on infrastructure is done prudently, efficiently, and effectively through the normal regulatory process before asking ratepayers to pay for these proposed improvements.

Montgomery County was an active participant in the PSC's Rule Making 43 Work Group and we look forward to working with the PSC to continue to improve the service quality and reliability standards for Maryland's electric companies.

In closing, we urge you to ensure that the PSC keeps the spotlight focused firmly on the goal of this important matter-namely, improving the reliability of the electric power grid for Maryland. Taking the additional steps we urge will help achieve that goal.

Sincerely,

Isiah Leggett
County Executive

Nancy Navarro, President
County Council


 

County's Snow Emergency Web Page

snowplowKeep this link handy as we make our way through the snow season. The Countyís snow emergency page has everything you need to know about snow plowing, closings and power outages. Itís a great resource.

Did you know that when it snows, 200 employees with 175 pieces of equipment spring into action? Here's a snapshot of the County's snow response plan:

~ When snow begins to cover roads, salt crews spread salt on all main County roads and emergency routes.

~ When snow accumulates to three inches, plowing and salting crews clear all main County roads and emergency routes.

~ Once the snow stops, crews begin plowing neighborhood roads.

~ Crews then complete plow routes and spread abrasives on hills, at intersections and on roads around schools.


 

Apply Now to the Board of Investment Trustees

Apply by February 13 for a partial term as the Council representative on the Board of Investment Trustees for the Montgomery County Employee Retirement Plans and the Board of Trustees for the Consolidated Retiree Health Benefits Trust. The Boards set investment policy, hire investment managers and monitor investment performance for the Trust Funds.

The Board of Investment Trustees is responsible for overseeing the investment of approximately $4 billion in assets for nearly 11,000 active and retired members of the three retirement plans: defined benefit, defined contribution and deferred compensation. The Board of Trustees is responsible for overseeing the investment program for the Consolidated Retiree Health Benefits Trust, which has assets of approximately $200 million. Learn more.


 

Fast Fact

In Maryland, properties are reassessed by the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation every three years. This is so that property owners pay only their fair share of local property taxes. If your property was reassessed this year, you would have received a notice from SDAT around January 1.

The 678,763 reassessments conducted this year reflect another decrease in real estate values for residential properties in Maryland. Statewide, residential values fell by 6.9 percent while 76.8 percent of properties decreased in value since their last assessment in 2010.

However, in Montgomery County, residential values rose by 1.7 percent while 45.2 percent of properties decreased in value.

Statewide, residential and commercial values combined fell by 3.6 percent. These values rose in only two countiesóMontgomery and Howard, at 4.1 percent and 2.5 percent respectively.

Learn more.


 

Green Tip of the Month

Do you have a forest conservation easement on or near your property? Easements protect forests on private land by limiting certain activities, part of the Planning Board's emphasis on forest conservation. Now you can locate easement areas using the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission's online tool.


 

Let's Talk

Is your community organization hosting a public meeting?  Please let me know how I can help. I am happy to assist residents in understanding pending bills or in finding ways to get involved in the political process. Even more important, I want to hear about what matters to you.  Send your meeting notices to councilmember.floreen@montgomerycountymd.gov or call 240-777-7959 if you would like me to address a particular topic with your group.

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