montgomery in focus masthead
July 2010

 

Six-Year Balanced Fiscal Plan and Reserve Policy - back to top

Rockville LibraryThis week, we signed off on a six-year balanced fiscal plan which I recommended in April.  We also enacted a new reserve policy that will take us to a 10 percent reserve in nine years.

Although the County Charter does reference it, this is the first time the Council has instituted a six-year projection designed to reduce annual budget gaps and lessen the impact of severe economic downturns.  The plan will not constrain future Councils in their year-to-year decision making, but it will provide valuable information and guidance for sustainability over the long term.  The plan not only will guide Councilmembers but also will give communities and the County's four agencies--Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery College, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and County Government--a realistic view of what they can expect in the upcoming years.  The plan will be updated annually as conditions change.  I see it as a great tool for everyone.

Under the new reserve policy, we will gradually increase our reserve to 10 percent of adjusted governmental revenue over a nine-year period.  The current reserve target is 6 percent of total resources.  We will have to be very thoughtful about spending to meet our goals, but this plan will put us on more solid footing for future economic downturns.  It is important to note that a 10 percent reserve is fairly modest according to our financial advisers who recommend a reserve equivalent to 60 days of operating expenses.

In April the bond rating agency Moody's placed the County on "watchlist negative."  Moody's listed both our recent history of structural deficits and our low reserve fund policy as factors in the warning. We covet our AAA bond rating, which reflects the County's excellent financial management over time. Maintaining the top-notch rating allows us to borrow at a low interest rate, which means we can invest in infrastructure at a lower cost.

This is a new era in Montgomery County, and it means we're going to have to be more disciplined.  This comprehensive fiscal management package is a big step in the right direction.


 

Fireworks on the Fourth - back to top

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. Mid-County Sparkles will be held at Albert Einstein High School, 11135 Newport Road, Kensington.

Germantown Glory
We invite families to enjoy a pre-fireworks Washington Freedom soccer game at 5 p.m.  Then a concert by Bobby and the Believers will begin at 7 p.m., with fireworks at approximately 9:30 p.m. Feel free to bring blankets, chairs and picnics, but no alcohol is permitted. Food vendors will be on site too.

Mid-County Sparkles
Pre-fireworks activities will include children's activities and a musical concert with Groove Killers beginning at 7:30 p.m., and the fireworks will begin at approximately 9:15 p.m. The viewing areas will be at the front of the school on the ball field and at the Newport Mill Middle School, 11311 Newport Mill Road. Since 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. Low lawn chairs and coolers are welcome, but please do not bring alcohol. Food vendors will be on site.

Municipalities
In addition to the two County-sponsored displays, several municipalities will have fireworks.  Gaithersburg will have a concert by Appaloosa at 7 p.m. with fireworks at 9:25 at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds.  Poolesville's display will be on the Polo Grounds with live music at 6 p.m. and fireworks at 9 p.m., and Rockville will sponsor live music at Montgomery College followed by fireworks at 9:30.

I plan to attend several Fourth of July celebrations throughout the County this weekend, including Mid-County Sparkles.  I hope to see you there.


 

Introducing MC311 - back to top

Now you can get Montgomery County government information and non-emergency services by calling 3-1-1.  You also can access this one-stop shop online at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/311.  The new call center will be open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the Web site is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Trained representatives who speak Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese and French are available.

Customer service representatives and the online system use a state-of-the-art database of information about County government that can be continually updated so the most current facts are available via the Web portal.  In the event of a community event/emergency, like a water main break, H1N1 flu epidemic or weather-related incident, the MC311 system can quickly incorporate real-time information. 

With MC311, we're streamlining service.  That means not only convenient, one-stop shopping but also cost effectiveness, which is important to everyone in this economic climate.  Local government provides many, many services, but sometimes it can be difficult to figure out which number to call.  Now you can just call 3-1-1 (or 9-1-1 in an emergency). This is an evolving process, so you can expect the system to get better and better over time.

Remember, even with this new convenient tool, I still welcome your calls in my office.  You can call me about policy issues or direct service requests anytime.  My number is 240-777-7959.


 

Fast Fact - back to top

The Department of Recreation operates outdoor swimming pools from May 29 until Labor Day. These pools are accessible to individuals with disabilities and offer recreational swim hours, lessons, swim teams and other programs.  To learn more, call the pool nearest you.

Bethesda Pool, 301-652-1598
Germantown Outdoor Pool, 240-777-8067
Martin Luther King Jr. Outdoor Pool, 240-777-8066
Long Branch Pool, 301-431-5700
Upper County Outdoor Pool, 301-840-2446
Western County Outdoor Pool, 301-349-2217
Wheaton/Glenmont Pool, 301-929-5460
Good Hope Sprayground, 240-777-8060


 

Green Tip of the Month - back to top

The County's Department of Environmental Protection invites you to take an online survey about programs related to maintaining and improving the health of streams.  This project is part of the department's Watershed Restoration Project, so please take five minutes to complete the survey.


 

Let's Talk - back to top

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.