Montgomery in Focus Masthead
October 2011

 

Median Income Drops in Montgomery County

The median household income has dropped in Montgomery County, according to new Census information.  We're in good company--company that includes the top ten highest earning U.S. cities. This doesn't come as a surprise as we have experienced decreased income tax revenue for the past couple of years, due in large part to drops in capital gains for our residents. We also know that our unemployment rate has hovered at twice our historical average, although well below the national average.

The newly released data also tells us we have more families in poverty than in past years.  In 2007, 2.8 percent of Montgomery County families were identified as living in poverty; in 2010, that increased to 4.9 percent.  The percentage of female-headed households experiencing poverty increased even more, from 9.5 percent in 2007 to 19 percent in 2010. 

Certainly we need to take this information seriously, and we need to be thoughtful about the conclusions we draw. We also need to remember that we have some forward-thinking, long-range economic development plans in place, and these plans will take advantage of our changing demographics as well as our changing landscape. They include tax credits for the bioscience industry, transit-centered master plans and zoning code changes.

With a median household income of $89,000, we're still in great shape. In fact, the Washington region, including Loudoun, Fairfax, Prince William, Howard and Montgomery counties, ranks as the wealthiest of metropolitan areas with a population of over one million.


 

Zoning as Economic Development - back to top

White Flint Metro StationThe Montgomery County Council stands poised to make bold changes to a complicated and sometimes inconsistent zoning code that has been characterized as unfriendly to both businesses and communities.  The proposed family of Commercial/Residential (CR) zones strips away much of the red tape that has hindered business, particularly small business, for decades.  By replacing a hodgepodge of commercial zones with three flexible CR zones, we're making our standards clearer, more predictable and ultimately more accessible to those who can create jobs as well as people living nearby.

The CR zones also incentivize business to develop in ways that benefit neighborhoods and focus density near transit.  They are designed to create interactive streetscapes where people can live, work, shop and play--all within one neighborhood.  After months of work on these new zones, the Council is scheduled to take action on October 4.


 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month Activities - back to top

People and organizations across the nation are hosting Breast Cancer Awareness Month activities in October, and here are two local efforts I particularly like.

Many Montgomery County firefighters will wear bright pink t-shirts that say "Fighting for a Cure" throughout the month as an optional part of their regular uniform.  The pink shirt campaign is conducted in cooperation with the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1664.  Proceeds from the shirts purchased by firefighters will benefit the Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure.

On October 20, Suburban Hospital and Saks Fifth Avenue Chevy Chase will host the regional kick-off party for Key to the Cure--a national three-day shopping event designed to raise funds for cancer research and treatment.  I'm proud to be the honorary chair of this festive event which will feature the latest styles and fashion trends, culinary samplings from 20 of the area's top restaurants, specialty cocktails, entertainment and the Key to the Treasure raffle box, all for the benefit of women's cancer programs at Suburban Hospital.  In addition to the direct proceeds from the October 20th event, two percent of retail sales generated through the weekend (October 21-23) will be donated to the Suburban Hospital Cancer Care Program.  Over the past decade, this event has raised more than $900,000 to help serve women in the Montgomery County/DC community.  This year, Suburban Hospital and Saks Chevy Chase expect to surpass the $1 million mark.


 

Town Hall Meeting for Students - back to top

Nancy Floreen with a student at town hall meetingJoin us for our second-ever town hall meeting for students on Wednesday, October 12. High school, middle school and elementary school students from across the County will be able to express views on issues and ask questions of councilmembers in an organized, but informal, setting.

When it comes to decisions affecting young people--whether in regard to schools, libraries, recreation, parks or the community in general--the practice too often is to have one set of adults talk to another set of adults. This Council will have many important decisions to make in the coming months--and many of these decisions could have significant impacts on people 18 and under. We think the best way to find out what this generation of Montgomery County residents need and want is to hear directly from them.

The meeting, in the Council's Third Floor Hearing Room, will start at 7 p.m. A pre-meeting reception will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the building's second-floor cafeteria. The meeting will be broadcast live on County Cable Montgomery (CCM--cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) and rebroadcast at various times in the following weeks.

RSVP by calling 240-777-7931.


 

Apply Now to Grants Advisory Group - back to top

Apply by November 14 for the FY13 Grants Advisory Group. We will appoint the volunteer community panel to review grant applications and advise us on proposals received from the non-profit community.

We believe that a strong partnership with non-profit organizations is critical in meeting the County's needs. We have established a grants process in which we accept applications from non-profit organizations seeking funds, forward proposals to the Grants Advisory Group for advice and comments and then make funding decisions during our spring budget deliberations.

We anticipate that the Grants Advisory Group will be appointed in December and will be asked to report to the Council by the end of April 2012. Panel members will need to attend training sessions and review relevant materials during late January and February. The applications review will take place between March 1 and April 15.

The Grants Advisory Group will be asked to provide us with comments on each of the grant proposals. The workload will vary based on the number of applications received and panel members appointed; however, it is expected that each member would review approximately 20 applications. Panel members should anticipate approximately six to eight meetings between the beginning of February and mid-April with the potential for weekly meetings in March.

Volunteers for the Grants Advisory Group can come from panels reviewing Community Development Block Grants or Community Service Grants, as well as from other advisory boards or community groups. Applicants for the Advisory Group cannot be employees or board members of a non-profit group applying for grant funding.

Submit your letter of interest and a resume to: Council President Valerie Ervin, Montgomery County Council Office, Stella B. Werner Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850 or via e-mail to county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov.


 

Fast Fact - back to top

One of my favorite events of the summer was Strathmore's 2011 UkeFest in which 945 of the 2,100 attendees attempted to break the world record for the number of ukelele musicians playing together in one place. Seniors, elementary school children and people of all ages in between showed up to enjoy the impressive line-up of entertainment and of course participate in the monumental group jam session. There is always something exciting going on at Strathmore, and best of all, it is right here in our own back yard, so check it out.


 

Green Tip of the Month - back to top

Is old equipment taking up space in your basement?  Make a tax-deductible donation of computer keyboards, mice, and monitors to RecycleMyComputer.  Located at the B-CC Regional Services Center, RecycleMyComputer recycles used computers, refurbishes them, and then gives them to people in need.


 

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.