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The Council Connection — full Council budget worksessions

Council Connection Masthead

Council President’s Message

The Council is entering the homestretch for this year’s budget.

This week and next, the Council will be meeting nearly every day to make preliminary budget decisions on every aspect of County government, from police, housing, transportation, and schools to fire and rescue, recreation, and parks. A straw vote on the final budget will take place on Thursday, May 17 with formal approval one week later. You can check out the Council’s budget agendas and follow the Council’s progress by watching live and on demand. Despite the generally positive economic environment, tax revenues have been very volatile and below expectations.

The Council’s budget will reflect difficult trade-offs as we try to resolve competing community priorities. As of now, the Council has recommended more than $20 million for additions. The amount that the Council can actually fund, however, will be substantially less.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the Council will also hold applicant interviews for positions on the Montgomery County Planning Board and the Board of Investment Trustees. The five-member Planning Board advises the Council on land use, transportation, zoning, and development approval issues. The Board of Investment Trustees oversees the County employee retirement plans.

Also on Thursday, the Council will travel to WSSC headquarters in Laurel, MD to meet with the Prince George’s County Council to discuss bi-county budgets. Both Counties work collaboratively to determine the budgets for bi-county agencies, which include WSSC and the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC).

After a busy few weeks reviewing and making recommendations on the budget, committees have a light week as the full Council turns its attention to the budget.

Cordially,

Hans Riemer Signature

Hans Riemer
Council President

RECENT ACTIONS

  • The Council held a public hearing on a special appropriation to provide legal assistance for low-income County residents without violent criminal convictions who have been detained and face deportation proceedings.
  • The Council reviewed a number of key budget items, including schools, emergency management and homeland security, the Office of Human Rights, the Sheriff’s Office, and the State’s Attorney’s Office.
  • The Council presented proclamations recognizing the week of April 29-May 5 as National Small Business Week, May 5 as Tree House Tour de Cookie Day, and the month of May as Building Safety Month.

How do I…

…learn more about the County’s Vision Zero initiative?

The County has committed itself to reducing traffic related fatalities and serious injuries to zero by 2030, joining many other jurisdictions across the Country. Vision Zero is a policy framework that places higher priority on human safety than mobility and recognizes that transportation-related deaths are not inevitable, but preventable. As such, the transportation system (the infrastructure itself, enforcement, law, and education efforts) must be wholistically designed to maximize safety on the roadways.

The County recently published its 2 year action plan for Vision Zero, which sets forth the vision and makes numerous recommendations. You can read it here. The County Executive’s recommended budget reflects the importance of this initiative by programming more than $118 million in the upcoming fiscal year. See where those funds are programmed here.

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The Council Connection — compensation, fossil fuel divestment, and due process for immigrants

Council Connection Masthead

Council President’s Message

On Tuesday, Council will be in session. We will review and act upon the County employee compensation agreements that have been negotiated by the executive branch and our employee unions.

Then, a joint committee will hold a meeting with representatives from our Board of Investment Trustees, who are responsible for managing our employee pension plan, to discuss fossil fuel divestment. Montgomery County’s pension plan has achieved a 92% funded ratio, putting it in a best in class category.

On Tuesday night the Council will hold a public hearing on a special appropriation to provide legal assistance for low-income County residents without violent criminal convictions who have been detained and face deportation proceedings. While previous administrations have focused immigration enforcement efforts on those that present a public safety threat, law-abiding residents who have not previously been in danger of deportation are now being placed in detention while their cases proceed. The Department of Justice is also ending a program that helps detainees understand their rights.

These are our neighbors, family members, business owners, and employees. Legal representation provides residents with much better odds of avoiding deportation when the law allows them to stay and a judge agrees.

The real solution is comprehensive immigration reform that provides a pathway to citizenship. Nevertheless, the Council is determined to act. It is important to note that the funds will not be available for individuals who have committed any one of a long list of crimes.

Finally, committees continue the heavy lifting on the budget covering important items such as the Department of Recreation, the Maryland National-Capital Park and Planning Commission, the Department of Liquor Control, Arts and Humanities Council, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Cordially,

Hans Riemer Signature

Hans Riemer
Council President

RECENT ACTIONS

How do I…

What would you like to see in this section? Send us a short note at Councilmember.Riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov, and we’ll do our best to include your idea in future newsletters.

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The Council Connection — committees review operating budget

Council Connection Masthead

Council President’s Message

Tuesday is Council session. While this is a very busy week, much of the heavy lifting comes at committee. Council staff is working overtime to review the executive’s budget and prepare recommendations for committee deliberation. At committee is where Councilmembers typically propose additions and reductions to the executive’s budget; all of these potential changes are then resolved through “reconciliation” in mid-May.

Tomorrow the Council will vote on a resolution to proclaim 2018 as the “Year of the Anacostia.” See this fascinating story about the history of river; the County has worked hard in recent years to reduce our pollution into the river. We will also vote on a resolution to develop an equity policy framework for County government.

Council will consider several important appointments to County government, including Commander Marcus Jones, nominated as Assistant Chief of the Police Department. The Council will also hold interviews on an appointment to the Board of Investment Trustees, which oversees the County employee retirement plans.

Finally, a number of public hearings on FY19 budget matters and two pieces of legislation dealing with transportation network companies fees and an economic development strategic plan will be held in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, Council committees will have reached the halfway point in their review of the FY19 budget by the end of this week. This week they will consider funding requests for transportation, snow removal, schools, police, corrections, economic development, environmental protection, solid waste services, and technology services. See the full committee agenda. The Council remains on track to approve the final budget by the end of May.

Cordially,

Hans Riemer Signature

Hans Riemer
Council President

RECENT ACTIONS

How do I…

…figure out who your district Councilmember is.

The County has five Councilmanic districts that each are represented by one Councilmember. Four at-large Councilmembers represent the entire County. Find out who your district Councilmember is by visiting the Council’s handy “Find My Councilmember” tool. Simply locate your home on the digital map or type in your address. And don’t forget that you are represented by five council members!

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The Council Connection — budget, immigration, and STEM

Council Connection Masthead

Council President’s Message

On Tuesday, with a briefing from Council staff, the Council will discuss the overall fiscal situation for the budget. Despite the generally positive economic environment, tax revenues have been very volatile and caution is called for. The Council’s budget will reflect difficult trade-offs as we try to resolve competing community priorities.

On Tuesday, the Council will introduce a special appropriation to fund a contract with the Capital Area Immigrants Rights Coalition to provide legal representation for County residents who have been detained for deportation proceedings and cannot otherwise afford an attorney, excluding residents with serious criminal convictions. Where prior Administrations focused immigration enforcement efforts on those with serious criminal convictions and others whom pose a threat to the community, this Administration is being indiscriminate in rounding up residents regardless of the lives they have built here or the value they add to the community. Across the Country we have heard stories of residents being put in detention and deported who own houses, have businesses and have employees who rely on them, and leave families behind, including children who in many cases are US Citizens. This is our County’s attempt to ensure that all residents have the opportunity to protect their rights and ensure they are aware and able to assert any options that they have under the law.

I am also very pleased to share that the County Executive has proposed a capital budget adjustment to purchase a building in Twinbrook that will serve as a new home for the KID Museum. This project, a joint effort between Montgomery County and the City of Rockville, will allow KID Museum to serve hundreds of thousands of students, providing innovative STEM and 21st Century Skills learning opportunities. The Council will review this proposal as we finalize our Capital Improvements Program for the coming six years.

Finally, Council committees will spend the week reviewing the FY19 operating budget. Specifically, committees will review operating budgets for parks, fire and rescue, the housing opportunities commission, recreation, transportation, early childhood services, 311, Montgomery College, libraries, and much more. While the full Council has the ultimate authority to approve, reject, or amend any budgetary item, the Council begins with the recommendations of committees. Take a look at the committee agenda for the full list of meetings and topics. You can also stream live or demand any committee session here.

Finally, new legislation will be introduced that creates a green jobs apprenticeship program. Find the full Council agenda here.

Cordially,

Hans Riemer Signature

Hans Riemer
Council President

RECENT ACTIONS

How do I…

…follow the Council committee’s work on the budget.

As the committees works on different budget items, you can follow along issue-by-issue by reading the Council staff packets, which are comprehensive memos evaluating the proposed budget as well as staff recommendations on the budget.

Visit the Council’s operating budget page, and click on one of the six committees. You will see a list of the links to the latest staff packets with the name of the relevant County department, agency, or program.