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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.

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The Council Connection — zoning changes to incentivize large employers + budget hearings

Council Connection Masthead

Council President’s Message

Introduced to the Council this week, at the request of the County Executive, will be a zoning change that addresses the potential for Montgomery County to host a major corporate headquarters (for example, Amazon HQ2). The proposal does not add density to existing master plans, but does provide for streamlining to reflect the unique needs of a project at that scale. Read more about it here.

This week the Council will hear in-person testimony from residents about priorities for the County’s FY19 operating budget at 5 public hearings. There are waiting lists for the hearings; nevertheless, if you haven’t yet signed up to and want to, use the Council’s website to choose a time slot. The Council will accommodate as many voices as possible.

At Tuesday’s Council session, Councilmembers will have an important discussion about access to pre-k and early education in the County, reviewing studies and hearing from experts. Research demonstrates that quality care in the early years pays of with better educational and social outcomes and more efficient use of school resources. Last year the Council funded a significant expansion of Head Start as well as more child care subsidies; this year the Council will consider new and different approaches.

Also at Tuesday’s Council Session, a zoning text amendment will be introduced that supports breweries, wineries, distilleries, and cideries locating in agricultural areas by creating a new “Farm Alcohol Production” use.

The Council will conduct a number of public hearings on environmental, pre-k and broadband legislation.

Council Committees start their work on the FY19 Operating with the Planning, Housing, and Economic Development (PHED) reviewing Park and Planning’s budget request.

Cordially,

Hans Riemer Signature

Hans Riemer
Council President

RECENT ACTIONS

How do I…

…watch a Council committee session online.

Often, big issues are “worked out” at committee before coming to the full Council. If you want to see how that happens, you can watch committee sessions live or on demand. Simply navigate to the Council Meeting Portal. You can view live committee sessions, browse the archives, and search by keyword.

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The Council Connection — school construction CIP, wireless connectivity infrastructure and more

Council Connection Masthead

Council President’s Message

I hope that you had an enjoyable holiday weekend. The Council is back in session on Tuesday, and we have a packed agenda. Included will be a discussion about employee workplace harassment policies and procedures, a review that the Council requested to ensure that we are doing everything we can to promote productive and safe work environments for our public sector employees.

We will also continue our work on the FY19-24 capital budget with a special focus on Montgomery Public Schools. The Council has been steadily increasing its investment in MCPS construction and renovation needs, making MCPS a higher priority for our construction program. The County Executive’s proposal before the Council would raise MCPS funding to record levels.

You may have heard that the Census Bureau recently announced that the 2020 Census will include a question on citizenship. In response, the Council will introduce a resolution that opposes this question and urges Maryland to sue the Federal Government to stop its addition to the Census. The resolution underscores that the citizenship question will damage the accuracy of the 2020 Census, affecting our community disproportionately, and hinder the goals of the Voting Rights Act. The Council is scheduled to vote on the resolution on April 17.

On Tuesday night, we have a public hearing about a proposal from the County Executive to amend the zoning code to allow for new telecommunications equipment. Specifically, new antennas that companies like Verizon and AT&T (to name just a few) want to install for the next generation of connectivity are smaller and intended to be placed on utility poles, streetlights, and similar locations, but the zoning code does not allow for them. There are many challenging issues involved.

Committees will take up many substantial issues, from Countywide technology programs to childcare. Read the full committee agenda here.

Cordially,

Hans Riemer Signature

Hans Riemer
Council President

RECENT ACTIONS

How do I…

…find Council staff “packets.”

The County Council has a dedicated staff of analysts and attorneys that provide rigorous and objective analysis of all business before the Council. Reading the work product (“packets” in the vernacular) of these analysts and attorneys is the most comprehensive way to learn about the particular issue you care about.

Fortunately, you don’t have to come to Rockville and dig through paper archives to browse the Council staff packets. They are all available on the Council website. Here are some tips to help you find the packet you are looking for:

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The Council Connection — wireless connectivity infrastructure, transportation CIP, and more

Council Connection Masthead

Council President’s Message

County Executive Leggett submitted his FY19 budget proposal to the County Council last Thursday. I appreciate the great work that the Executive and his staff have done to get us to this point in the budget process. The County Executive’s budget, which you can explore using the County’s Open Budget tools, provides a solid foundation for the Council to begin its work to determine the final budget. Keep tabs on the Council’s progress by visiting our budget webpage.

In addition to the FY19 budget, the Council has a full agenda for the week ahead. Three bills dealing with environmental issues will be introduced, and the Council will take final action on economic development legislation. The Council continues its work on the Capital Budget with tentative approval of projects in public safety, technology, and transportation. The Council will also conclude its work on the 10 Year Water and Sewer Plan. The plan (in concert with County’s master plans) determines where and how sewer or septic systems decisions are made. Read the staff memo here.

On Tuesday night, we have a public hearing about a proposal from the County Executive to amend the zoning code to allow for new telecommunications equipment. Specifically, new antennas that companies like Verizon and AT&T (to name just a few) want to install for the next generation of connectivity are smaller and intended to be placed on utility poles, streetlights, and similar locations, but the zoning code does not allow for them. There are many challenging issues involved.

Committees will take up many substantial issues, from affordable housing legislation and Montgomery College capital funding to the Purple Line. Read the full committee agenda here.

Cordially,

Hans Riemer Signature

Hans Riemer
Council President

RECENT ACTIONS

  • The Council met with more than 200 people at the Council’s Town Hall at the White Oak Recreation Center on March 14. We discussed a wide range of issues including economic development, the opportunity gap, protections for our immigrant communities, libraries, crime and litter. A portion of the meeting can be viewed here.
  • The Council tentatively approved capital projects affecting WSSC, Public Safety, and Recreation

How do I…

…get involved with the Council’s work on the FY19 budget.

Final Council action on the FY19 budget is currently scheduled for May 24, but we need your help in the meantime. We want to know what services are most important to you and how we can make local government more responsive to your needs. Here are a couple ways to make your voice heard during the budget process:

Below is the County’s budget timeline.

January 15
County Executive submits proposed Capital Improvements Program (CIP) and capital budget to the Council.

February
Early February – Capital Improvements Program (CIP) public hearings are scheduled.
For the FY19-24 CIP, Council public hearings were held on February 6 and 7.

March 15
County Executive submits proposed operating budget to the Council.

April
Early April – Operating budget public hearings are scheduled.
For the FY19 budget these public hearings are scheduled for April 10, 11 and 12.
Committee meetings begin to review operating budget.

May
Council operating budget meetings begin.
For the FY19 budget these meetings are tentatively scheduled for May 7-17.
Final vote on the operating budget is tentatively scheduled for May 24.

June 1
Council must take final action on the budget no later than June 1.

July 1
New fiscal year begins.