Once we receive the Recommended Budget, we will hold a series of work sessions both in committee and as a full Council, as well as several public hearings. A lot will happen between March 15 and the end of May, so I encourage you to follow along on my blog.
We anticipate cost cutting measures in this year's budget, and many of those will affect residents and employees. As we move forward, I remain committed to fairness and equity among stakeholders and will work to make sure no one group shoulders a disproportionate burden. Please keep me informed of your thoughts as we make our way through these decisions.
The budget will take effect July 1.
Census Data Shows Growth in Population and Diversity- back to top
Who wants to be a million-person-county? We're almost there with a total of 971,777 according to recently released Census data. That's up 11.3 percent from a decade ago and ranks us second in population for the metropolitan Washington region behind Fairfax County, whose population stands at 1,081,726. This growth rate is on par with our demographers' expectations, and so is the shift from a majority white population to one that is 50.7 percent minority.
Montgomery County saw the highest growth in its Hispanic population with that group now representing 17 percent of the population, edging out the black/African American population, which stands at 16.6 percent. Geographically, most of the growth occurred along the I-270 corridor with Clarksburg, Germantown and Rockville taking the gold, silver and bronze for the percentage increase in growth.
Census data helps us better understand our communities and project future needs. We use it to shape plans for transportation, transit, land use and economic development. For example, the shift to a majority minority population will likely mean an increase in small business as well as diversity in the types of business we see in the future since most new businesses are started by people in the minority community.
Census data also is used to distribute Congressional seats to states; to make decisions about what community services to provide; to distribute $400 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year; and to allocate state legislative districts and draw County Council districts.
There are various cases and timelines related to Pepco reliability. To sort them out, see the special Pepco edition of my newsletter. Since publication of that newsletter, there have been two filings you may find interesting.
First, Pepco has filed its required Major Storm Report (item 6) on the January 26 snowstorm with the Public Service Commission. The report covers the number and causes of outages, the number and type of responses and timetables for restoration. Remember, this case (case 9256) is a routine investigation required for all power companies after a major storm. It is separate from the ongoing investigation into Pepco's reliability (case 9240). On March 3 at 9:30 a.m. the PSC will hold a hearing on the January 26 event. You can watch the hearing live online.
Second, Montgomery County has filed comments with the Public Service Commission in response to the PSC's proposed revision of the state regulation regarding service provided by electric companies. This rule making procedure (RM43) also is separate from the ongoing investigation into Pepco's reliability (case 9240). The County's eight-page response regarding definition of an acceptable level of reliability for Pepco addresses "inadequate" discretionary civil penalties. It says that these penalties in no way compare to the financial hardships experienced by the community. The comments reflect the frustration we have heard loud and clear from our constituents.
To keep up with future developments, visit my blog.
Let us know what matters most to you at our Town Hall Meeting for the Bethesda area on Wednesday, March 2. This will be the second Town Hall Meeting in 2011, and it will be held at the Westland Middle School (5511 Massachusetts Ave.) beginning at 8 p.m. with a pre-meeting reception at 7:30. 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.
With the continued slumping economy, Manna Food Center depends more than ever on the generosity of individuals and organizations to help it feed more than 800 families per week. Nearly one-half of the people Manna feeds are children, which is not surprising when you realize that 31.1 percent of all MCPS students qualify for free or reduced price meals. That means almost one of every three students in Montgomery County is at risk for hunger. The staff of the County Council holds food drives throughout the year to benefit Manna's clients. To find out how you can help, visit Manna's Web site.
The MEA Home Performance Rebate Program offers homeowners bigger rebates than ever for home energy efficiency improvements. By combining a 35 percent rebate (up to $3,100 total) from the Maryland Energy Administration with a 15 percent rebate from your utility, you can save a total of 50 percent on home energy improvements.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 240-777-7959 if you would like me to address a particular topic with your group.