County Council Meets on Tuesday, Feb. 6 to Vote on Spending Affordability Guidelines for the Fiscal Year 2025 Operating Budget and Capital Improvements Program

The Montgomery County Council will meet on Tuesday, Feb. 6 at 10 am. Full meeting agenda below:

Per the press release: The meeting will begin with a proclamation, led by Councilmember Kristin Mink and the County Executive, recognizing the celebration of Lunar New Year.

At 11:30 a.m., the Council will hold its annual Black History Month commemoration. The theme for this year’s commemoration is African Americans and The Arts. The commemoration will recognize Angela Ingram, a local folklore educator and professional dancer; Levi Robinson, a local award-winning artist; and Kenneth Smith, a Montgomery Blair High School social studies teacher who leads a hip-hop history and culture class.

More detail on each agenda item is provided below.

Interview: At 10:15 a.m., the Council will interview Dr. Nina Ashford, the County Executive’s nominee for Chief of Public Health Services with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on the Fiscal Year (FY) 25-30 Capital Improvements Program (CIP) Spending Affordability Guidelines. These guidelines limit certain types of debt that may be programmed for expenditures in the CIP and set the Council’s voting thresholds for the capital budget each year.

The Council must adopt spending affordability guidelines for the aggregate capital budget by the first Tuesday in October of every odd-numbered calendar year. The Council may revise these guidelines by the first Tuesday in February annually, if the economic and fiscal conditions have changed significantly. By evaluating and setting appropriate debt levels every two years, the Council preserves the County’s fiscal health and manages the amount of general funds required for debt service.

During its review of the guidelines on Jan. 24, the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy (GO) Committee unanimously recommended that the Council retain the Council-adopted guidelines from September 2023 because the conditions have not changed to warrant a change in the adopted guidelines. A summary of each spending guideline can be found on page one of the Council staff report.

Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on the Spending Affordability Guidelines for the FY25 Operating Budget. The Montgomery County Code requires the Council to specify the following when adopting the spending affordability guidelines for the operating budget: a ceiling on the funding from ad valorem real property tax revenues; a ceiling on the aggregate operating budget; and separate budget allocations for Montgomery County government, the Montgomery County Board of Education, Montgomery College, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, debt service and current revenue funding of capital projects. As part of this process the Council will consider the condition of the economy, the level of economic activity in the County, trends in personal income and the impact of economic and population growth and projected revenues.

The December fiscal plan update showed higher than projected revenues for FY23 and FY24, but continued projections of a mild recession beginning in 2024. The County’s total tax revenues in FY23 were more than $229 million greater than budgeted, resulting in general fund reserve levels at 16.8 percent. FY24 total revenues are estimated to be more than $225 million greater than the FY24 approved budget. Total revenues projections for FY25-29 are relatively unchanged from June and the revenue changes for FY23 and FY24 will result in a large influx of one-time revenue to the County.

The GO Committee recommends setting the ceiling on funding from ad valorem real property tax revenues at the average weighted property tax rate approved in FY24 and setting the ceiling on the aggregate operating budget at $6,204.5 million, which is a 3 percent increase from the FY24 approved operating budget. This is based on the estimated increase in personal income and an additional $80.6 million to reflect one-time reserves in FY25 for the capital budget (as included in the proposed FY25-FY30 CIP). More details on allocation categories can be found on page one of the Council staff report.

District Council Session

Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 23-08, Transferable Development Rights – Cemetery

Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 23-08, Transferable Development Rights – Cemetery, which would allow certain properties in the Agricultural Reserve (AR) Zone with transferable development rights (TDRs) to be used as cemeteries. Councilmember Marilyn Balcombe is the lead sponsor of ZTA 23-08. The Planning, Housing and Parks (PHP) Committee recommends enactment with amendments.

Under the current zoning ordinance, a cemetery is prohibited if the lot or parcel on which the cemetery would be located is in the AR Zone and is encumbered by a recorded TDR easement. ZTA 23-08 would allow a property owner in the AR Zone to expand a cemetery onto land that currently has TDRs.

A TDR is a voluntary, incentive-based program that allows landowners to sell development rights from their land to a developer or other interested party who then can use these rights to increase the density of development at another designated location. While the seller of development rights still owns the land and can continue using it, an easement is placed on the property that prevents further development.

The PHP Committee recommends approval with amendment.

Consent Calendar

Each item on the Council’s Consent Calendar can be found on the Council agenda for Tuesday, Feb. 6, which is available on the Council website.

Introduction: Councilmembers Will Jawando, Gabe Albornoz, Balcombe, Natali Fani-González, Dawn Luedtke and Laurie-Anne Sayles and Vice President Kate Stewart will introduce a resolution, which would call on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue a recall of Kia and Hyundai models manufactured between 2011 and 2022 that lack immobilizer technology used to increase the security of vehicles. These vehicles lack engine immobilizers and contain easily bypassed ignition switches that have made them vulnerable to theft in Maryland and other jurisdictions.

Public Hearings

Unless otherwise noted, the Council will hold the following hybrid public hearings at 1:30 p.m.  Residents can visit the Council website to learn about the multiple ways to provide testimony.

FY25 Capital Budget and FY25-30 Capital Improvements Program (CIP)

Public hearings: On Feb. 6 at 2:15 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Feb. 7 at 1:30 p.m., the Council will receive testimony on the FY25 Capital Budget and FY25-30 CIP for County government, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), Montgomery College, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, WSSCWater, Washington Suburban Transit Commission, Revenue Authority, Housing Opportunities Commission, and municipality and state projects. Projects in the six-year program include facilities for parks, recreation, roads, schools, community college, libraries, fire stations, mass transit, housing, police, correction and rehabilitation, general government, and other public purposes. Capital projects are primarily funded with money from future issuance of bonds. Additions, deletions or modifications to the CIP and capital budget may be made subsequent to the public hearings. Council action on the WSSCWater CIP is also an update to the Comprehensive Water Supply and Sewerage Systems Plan.

Legislative Session

Bill 12-23, Police – Traffic Stops – Limitations (The Safety and Traffic Equity Policing “STEP” Act)

Motion to withdraw: The Council is scheduled to vote on a motion to withdraw Bill 12-23, Police – Traffic Stops – Limitations (The Safety and Traffic Equity Policing “STEP” Act), from lead sponsor Councilmember Jawando. Bills are withdrawn by a majority vote of the Council.

Introduction: Councilmember Jawando will introduce Bill 2-24, Police – Traffic Stops – Consent Search of Motor Vehicle and Data Collection, also known as the “Freedom to Leave Act”. Bill 2-24 would prohibit consent search of a motor vehicle or person by a police officer during a traffic stop, require the collection of certain data and information related to traffic stops, require annual reporting of traffic stop data in the County and exclude the limitations on traffic stops from collective bargaining.

The purpose of Bill 2-24 is to build community trust by prohibiting consent searches of motor vehicles during a traffic stop, which disproportionately affect Black and Brown residents. Bill 2-24 also seeks to improve data collection related to traffic stops, promote transparency and strengthen data analysis capabilities related to traffic stops within the County.

Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on Expedited Bill 46-23, OPT/SLT Bargaining Units – Pension and Retirement Adjustments. Bill 46-23 would extend from Jan. 4, 2024, to Aug. 7, 2024, the deadline for eligible County employees enrolled in Groups E and J of the Employees’ Retirement System to elect to purchase credited years of service with their existing Retirement Savings Plan or Guaranteed Retirement Income Plan balances. A public hearing was held on Jan. 16, 2024.

The lead sponsor of Expedited Bill 46-23 is Councilmember Sidney Katz. Councilmembers Jawando, Luedtke and Albornoz, Council Vice President Stewart and Councilmembers Sayles, Mink and Balcombe and Council President Andrew Friedson, and Councilmember Fani-González are cosponsors of Expedited Bill 46-23.

The GO Committee recommends enactment as introduced.

Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on Expedited Bill 41-23, Fire and Rescue Services – Length of Service Awards Program for Volunteers – Amendments, which would increase the amount of the length of service benefits to certain local fire and rescue department volunteers. The lead sponsor is the Council president, at the request of the County Executive.

The GO and PS Committees recommend enactment as introduced.

Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on Bill 1-24, Bond Authorization, and its companion resolution. The legislation is required to implement the appropriations approved in the Amended FY23-28 CIP. Expedited Bill 1-24 would increase the County’s general obligation bond authorization by more than $2.8 million in certain public facility categories. The companion resolution consolidates the previously approved bond authorizations and increases the total authorization by the amount recommended in Expedited Bill 1-24. Additionally, the resolution allows the consolidated bond authorization to be issued, sold and delivered from time to time as one or more series of bond anticipation notes. The lead sponsor is the Council president, at the request of the County Executive.

Resolution to approve or disapprove provisions of a Memorandum of Agreement between the County and the Montgomery County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association

Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on a resolution to indicate the Council’s intent to approve or reject provisions of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the County and Montgomery County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association (MCVFRA). The terms of the agreement would require the introduction of legislation to increase length-of-service (LOSAP) benefits, increase the nominal fee payable to active volunteers and increase operational funds payable to MCVFRA. The joint GO and PS Committee unanimously recommend approval.

County law requires the County Executive to submit to the Council any element of an agreement with an authorized representative that requires an appropriation of funds, may have a future fiscal impact, is inconsistent with any County law or regulation, or requires the enactment or adoption of any County law or regulation. On Nov. 1, 2023, the County Executive submitted to the Council an MOA with MCVFRA for FY23 through FY26. On Nov. 14, 2023, the Council adopted a resolution to extend the deadline to approve or disapprove of the terms of the MOA until March 1, 2024, to permit adequate review. The Council must notify the parties within 60 days if it disapproves an agreement in whole or in part.

Supplemental Appropriation #24-3 to the FY24 Operating Budget, Montgomery County Government, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, FY24 Montgomery County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association Contract, $336,188

Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on a supplemental appropriation to the FY24 Operating Budget for the MCVFRA contract. The joint GO and PS Committee recommends approval in the amount of $355,688, which is an addition of $19,500 to cover an additional Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC) that is required under the new agreement.

The request will fund certain elements of the pending agreement between Montgomery County and MCVFRA. On Nov. 1, 2023, the Executive submitted a negotiated agreement between the County and the MCVFRA, effective July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2025, for Council review and action along with the proposed Expedited Bill 41-23, which would fund the negotiated increase to the volunteers’ LOSAP benefits.

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AC Milan Soccer Camp at Maryland Soccerplex

AC Milan Academy is hosting a soccer camp at Maryland Soccerplex from March 1st through March 3rd for girls and boys aged 5 to 16 from any club who want to develop their soccer skills and learn the unique methodology of AC Milan directly from AC Milan coaches.

March 1st (Friday) 6pm-7:30pm

March 2nd (Saturday) 6pm-7:30pm

March 3rd (Sunday) 10:30am -12pm and 3:30pm-5pm

Location:18031 Central Park Cir, Boyds, MD 20841

Price: $349 + AC Milan Junior Camp Kit

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