Montgomery in Focus Masthead
March 2013

 

TV Special on Poverty in Montgomery County

Nancy Floreen and 2 others at A Wider CircleThis program is a must see.

Montgomery County ranks among counties with the highest median incomes. We take pride in being the economic engine of Maryland. Our schools make the lists of the best in the nation. Yet we have pockets of poverty that are not easily seen. Families of working poor and people whose circumstances have taken dramatic turns for the worse due to the economic conditions of the past few years make up an increasing portion of our community.

We have people in this county who have lost significant jobs and have been unable to find other employment. We have people who work two or more jobs, and when they add up their paychecks, they still do not have enough to pay their basic bills. These families live right here, and they need help—but they are not always easy to identify.

That’s why I asked County Cable Montgomery to help shine a light on the hidden poverty within our county. We often only get a chance to see the affluence in Montgomery County, and this television program, The Unseen Montgomery, gives us a chance to see a growing part of life here.

The Unseen Montgomery, a 30-minute show terrifically produced and hosted by Susan Kenedy, points out that, on average, it requires a family income of $73,000 for a family of four to provide for all of its living essentials. But it also states that, over the past five years, Montgomery County has seen a 52 percent increase in the number of people receiving assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) and that more than 5,600 families a month receive food from the Manna Food Center, a nonprofit that acts as the local food bank.

The first broadcast of The Unseen Montgomery will be at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 3. It will replay that day at 8 p.m. The next scheduled rebroadcast will be at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 9. It will be rebroadcast at various future times that have yet to be determined. CCM is broadcast as Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN and Channel 30 on Verizon. You can also see the broadcast streaming on the County Web site or on YouTube.

The show identifies nonprofits that provide help to those in need, including Manna; A Wider Circle, which collects used furniture and household items for those in need; and the Food Recovery Network, which collects unused food from restaurants and venue concession operators for nonprofit organizations that redistribute it to those in need. Also featured are the Family Self-Sufficiency Program, a structured program that seeks to get people free of assistance, and Arleeta’s Pantry at the Woodside Methodist Church in Silver Spring.


 

Action Alert: Transportation Funding

I don't normally do this, but I'm asking for your help. I don't have to tell you how much we need transportation solutions here in the Montgomery County, and that's only going to happen with funding from the State of Maryland. Please join me, along with all of my colleagues on the County Council, in ugring our representatives in Annapolis to increase transportation funding now.


 

Smoking Ban Passes

There is no risk-free level of exposure to second hand smoke, so I’m glad we unanimously passed my bill to ban smoking on most property leased or owned by the County. As stewards of public health we are responsible for protecting residents, employees and visitors from dangerous exposure.

The approved bill includes recommended amendments from its original form suggested by the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee. Most significantly, the approved bill expands the ban to bus stops and bus shelters.

Visit my blog for the full list of changes, including our decision to exclude County-owned golf courses.


 

Honoring Ten Local Companies on the Inc. 500 List

Inc 500 companies receiving a proclamationI had the pleasure of presenting County Council proclamations to 10 local companies that were included in the 2012 version of the Inc. 500, which recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in America. The businesses, which represent a wide variety of industries including energy, marketing, technology and health, earned their rankings based on their three-year revenue growth rate from 2008-2011.

Two of the 10 companies recognized are part of Montgomery County’s Business Innovation Network, which helps growing companies realize their potential with the help of five business incubation centers that offer office and lab space, as well as business support services, to emerging technology, life sciences and professional services companies.

In 2011, the bottom line of each of these 10 Montgomery-based companies was truly top shelf as they generated combined revenue of more than $210 million and their three-year growth rate ranged from 839 percent to 1,990 percent.

These elite local 10 are Blue Corona of Gaithersburg, Digital Management of Bethesda, E-SAC of Rockville, MBL Technologies of Rockville, RainKing Solutions of Bethesda, Sonatype of Silver Spring, Special Operations Solutions of Silver Spring, Standard Solar of Rockville, TISTA Science and Technology of Rockville and WeddingWire of Bethesda.

We at the Council congratulate these 10 companies and thank them for furthering Montgomery County’s reputation of encouraging innovation and for being one of the nation’s best places for businesses to start, grow and flourish.


 

Bill to Help Promote Montgomery Passes

Montgomery County has a tremendous number of events and amenities, and the bill we passed recently will enhance our ability to share these with residents and visitors alike.

I sponsored Bill 36-12 to provide additional funding for promoting the County as a good place for business travelers, for tourists to stay while they enjoy the Capital Region and for visitors and residents right here within the County.

The bill increases the percentage of the hotel/motel tax directed to the County’s Conference and Visitors Bureau for marketing purposes from 3.5 to 7 percent. It does not, however, raise the tax rate.

Our tourism industry is one of the largest voices for promoting economic development in Montgomery County, and this bill will help us be a bigger player in the region.

During public testimony about the bill we learned that Montgomery County spends less overall on promotions than all neighboring jurisdictions other than Arlington County in Virginia. Assuming the hotel/motel tax revenues stay consistent with recent years’ collections, the bill will provide approximately $630,000 additional for the CVB.


 

Town Hall Meeting in Silver Spring

Let us know what matters most to you at our Town Hall Meeting for the Silver Spring area on Wednesday, March 13, at the American Film Institute Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road. The event begins at 8 p.m. You can voice your opinions on specific issues and ask questions of us in an organized, but informal, setting. I hope to see you there.

The meeting will be taped for later broadcast on County Cable Montgomery (CCM—cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). For more information about the Town Hall Meeting or about the broadcast times, call 240-777-7931.


 

All Committee Meetings Now Available Live on TV or Internet

All nine members of the county councilNow you can watch all of the County Council’s committee meetings from the comfort of your home or anywhere with Internet access.

All of our committee meetings now either are being broadcast live on County Cable Montgomery or recorded for later broadcast on the County’s cable station. At times when two committees are meeting simultaneously, you now have the option of seeing one meeting live on television and the other on the Internet via streaming video.

The move to broadcast all committee meetings—which total approximately 190 in an average year—is part of the County’s Open Government Initiative to make more aspects of government operations accessible to the public.

The County has long had the policy of televising live all Council sessions and public hearings on County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). Special events such as town hall meetings hosted by the Council or the County Executive are either broadcast live or recorded for later broadcast.


 

Fast Fact

A new report, Beyond Charity: Nonprofit Business in Montgomery County shows that 10 percent of the County’s workforce is employed by nonprofits, with total wages of $2.2 billion. Now that's serious business.

Some other highlights in the report are:

~ Montgomery County’s 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofits paid $2.2 billion to 43,371 employees in 2011 and have nearly $4 billion in combined purchasing power.

~ Nonprofits employ one in 10 workers in the county.

~ Nonprofit employment in the county grew 9.1 percent between 2007 and 2011, while overall employment in the county decreased by 2.5 percent.


 

Green Tip of the Month

If you have made energy efficient upgrades to your home, you could be eligible for some tax relief. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 retroactively renewed the energy efficiency tax credit for homeowners who made qualifying improvements in 2012 or 2013.

The credit can mean up to $500 of cash in your pocket. This means up to:

~ $500 for insulation and air sealing materials

~ $200 for windows, doors and skylights

~ $500 for cool roofing products

~ $150 for high efficiency heating equipment

~ $300 for high efficiency air conditioners

Vist My Green Montgomery for more information.


 

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.