In response to what we believed was a projected $250 million shortfall in the next fiscal year beginning on July 1, we worked with the County Executive and government agencies to implement a savings plan that reduces this year’s budget by $33 million. These savings come primarily from short-term solutions, such as freezing hiring and delaying projects, although we also cut some services. For example, there will be a reduction in the frequency of some RideOn routes.
Since embarking on this savings plan, we have learned that next year’s shortfall may be more than double the amount originally anticipated, reaching into the $400-$600 million range. That’s going to mean terrible choices and real cuts in programs and services. I am committed to doing everything I can to protect the basics--teachers in the classrooms, police, firefighters and paramedics, core infrastructure so our roads and bridges are safe, and protections for our most vulnerable residents. The bottom line is that our residents are having to cut their budgets; we will have to do the same.
President-Elect Obama as well as leaders in the House and Senate have indicated that infrastructure and alternative energy projects will be a focus of the economic stimulus legislation. How can Montgomery County benefit from the anticipated federal spending? What projects or services would you like me and other local officials to pursue as a part of the stimulus package? Some have suggested transit construction, while others have mentioned a program to retrofit buildings for energy efficiency. Should we use this opportunity to make Montgomery County the energy independence center of the country? What do you think? Visit my blog to share your views.
We’re all aware of the seemingly endless bad news coming out of Annapolis about the State budget. All governments, along with businesses and families, are making tough choices these days, and I understand Maryland’s need to make cuts.
However, in reviewing the proposed reductions for the Maryland Transit Administration, I was particularly concerned about the elimination of the mid-day MARC Train that runs up through northern Montgomery County.
At MTA’s public hearing in Rockville a few weeks ago, I spoke on behalf of saving this service. Transit is the most important tool we have in our arsenal to reduce vehicle miles traveled and thereby our carbon footprint. Without a guaranteed ride home during the mid-day, commuters may opt out of transit altogether, further congesting I-270 and other radial highways when they commute by car.
I’ll keep you posted as the State works through this issue. To see my entire testimony, visit my blog.
We’re now accepting applications for one position on the Board of Appeals. This is a part-time paid position responsible for land use issues such as hearing and deciding requests for variances from developmental standards and making decisions on applications for special exceptions. Members work approximately 15-25 hours per week. Take a look at the position announcement, and remember to get your application in by January 5.
I recently toured the Intercounty Connector (ICC) construction site, paying particular attention to environmental issues and other concerns raised by my constituents. I saw the longer bridges designed to provide more protection for wetlands as well as the culverts that will provide safe passage for deer and small mammals. I also took note of the nearby homes and the mitigation efforts underway to protect them from noise and other effects from the road.
The State Highway Administration started building the ICC in the fall of 2007, and major construction continues steadily. Contract A (7 miles of the ICC between I-370 and MD 97) is more than 30% complete and on schedule to finish in the fall of 2010. Construction on Contract B (7 miles of highway beginning at MD 97 to just west of US 29) is slated to begin in late January. The remainder of the ICC is on schedule to finish in late 2011 or early 2012.
The project also is having an impact on other parts of the county. The money the County receives from the State as reimbursement for the right-of-way is being put back into the acquisition of parkland all over the county. Some of our recent purchases are Hillmead Local Park, Upper Paint Branch Stream Valley Park, Piedmont Crossing Local Park and Tilden Woods Stream Valley Park.
Now that construction is underway, some new questions will arrise. Contact me anytime for information or help working through the issues. I’m confident the ICC will be a real asset to Montgomery County in the long run, and I’m committed to making sure things go as smoothly as possible while we’re getting there.
A family of three (one adult, one pre-schooler, one school-age child) needs an income of $68,086 to live at the minimum level in Montgomery County, according to the 2008 Self Sufficiency Standard Report. The self-sufficiency standard is a measure of how much income is needed for a family to meet its basic needs without public or private assistance. The lowest acceptable amount of money needed by a family of four is $79,736. Montgomery County has the highest overall costs in Maryland and one of the highest costs of any county in the United States, primarily due to housing and child care costs.
Enjoy car-free, carbon-reduced jaunts to Bethesda shops, restaurants and theaters with the Bethesda Circulator’s extended route and special holiday hours, all for free. From now through December 31, the Circulator will run a loop down Montgomery Avenue and up East-West Highway every 10 minutes from 7 a.m. until 12 midnight Monday-Saturday.
If you drive to Bethesda, park at one of Montgomery County’s public garages, then walk to the nearby Circulator stop. If you take Metro, you’ll find a stop in the Bethesda station. For more information and a map, visit the Bethesda Urban Partnership.
What should I know? What's going on in your neck of the woods? Please let me know how I can assist you. Please put me on your community mailing list or listserv. I'm always delighted to join your group and chat. Remember, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 240-777-7959.
If you have any questions or comments, contact us by email or postal mail: Montgomery County Government, Office of Public Information, 101 Monroe Street, 4th Floor, Rockville, MD 20850.