Montgomery County Charter Review Commission to Hold Public Listening Sessions on Three Potential Charter Amendments

The Montgomery County Charter Review Commission issued the following news release on Friday, February 23:

The Charter Review Commission will hold two listening sessions with the public on March 6, 2024, to receive input on three potential Charter amendments. Additional details concerning the potential amendments are provided below.

One listening session will be held in-person in the Council Office Building in Rockville on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m.  The in-person session will be recorded so that the public can view it online afterward. A second listening session will be held virtually on March 6 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  Details on how to participate are provided below.

Topics for the Listening Sessions

The Montgomery County Charter is the constitution of the Montgomery County government. As provided in the Charter, the Charter Review Commission is an 11-member body appointed by the County Council to study and recommend changes to the Charter. These recommendations may lead to proposed amendments being placed by the Council on the ballot to be voted upon by registered voters.

The Commission has tentatively considered and seeks public input on the following potential Charter amendments:

1. Whether to amend the Charter to provide for voters to directly elect one At-Large member of the County Council to also serve as the Council President for four years, a position that would coincide with that person’s four-year term as an At-Large member.  This would be an amendment to Section 108 of the Charter.

  • An alternate proposal would have Council members choose a President for a two-year term instead of the one-year term that historically has been used. The Council could accomplish this by adopting an operating rule, enacting legislation, or through a Charter amendment.

2. Whether to amend Section 305 of the Charter to make several provisions more consistent in how the Council makes decisions concerning the operating budget and property tax revenue.

  • In the current budget process, the Council uses multiple variables, including the inflation rate and projections about expected revenue from income taxes and property taxes, to create spending affordability guidelines. Subsequently, the County Executive submits to the Council a proposed operating budget, which may or may not be within the Council’s previously stated spending guidelines. The Council must then enact an operating budget.
  • Section 305 of the Charter establishes three different voting levels for the Council to finalize its operating budget:
    • If the Council decides to approve operating budget expenditures that exceed the previous year’s operating budget by more than the increase in the consumer price index, the Council must approve that budget with seven votes instead of a simple majority, which is six votes.
    • However, if the proposed operating budget exceeds the Council’s own previously stated spending affordability guidelines, it must approve the budget with eight votes.
    • If the Council decides the property tax rate should be increased by any amount to produce the revenue needed to fund its operating budget, that decision must be approved unanimously by all Council members. Today, that requires all eleven Council members to agree, but when the requirement for unanimous approval was initially created, there were only nine Council members.
    • Public input is solicited on whether Section 305 of the Charter should be amended to create consistency and require a two-thirds majority for all three actions listed in Section 305. A two-thirds majority would require eight votes in the existing 11-member Council.

3. Whether to amend Section 215 of the Charter to allow the County Executive to fill non-merit positions without the confirmation of the Council when the position does not involve the head of a department or principal office or the head of an agency of the Executive Branch. Currently, there are at least 36 non-merit positions that would be covered by the amendment, that currently receive Council confirmation. By comparison, there are at least 23 non-merit positions that are heads of a department, principal office or agency that would remain subject to Council confirmation.

  • As an alternative proposal, if Section 215 is not amended to eliminate the requirement for Council confirmation for certain non-merit positions, should the Charter be amended to allow the County Executive’s appointments for non-merit positions to become final if the Council does not act to confirm, reject, or defer the appointment within 45 days, or some other time specified in the Charter amendment? 

Details on Public Participation

Members of the public are invited to share their views on the subjects described above either in-person or during an online session. The in-person listening session will be held on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Council Office Building, located at 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD.  The hearing will be held on the 3rd floor.  To register to speak at the in-person listening session, please sign up by clicking HERE.

If you have a prepared written statement, which is not necessary, please bring courtesy copies to share with the Commissioners or send a copy of the statement by email to [email protected].

A remote, virtual listening session will also be held on Wednesday March 6, 2024 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  If you would like to speak at the remote virtual session, you must preregister at least two business days in advance of the listening session using THIS LINK, or you may call 240-777-7905 to register. If you have not preregistered, the Commission cannot guarantee that you will be able to speak at the session.

If you would like to attend the virtual session without speaking, please use the following link to login to the virtual meeting: Virtual Meeting Room

Questions about registration can be addressed to Stephen Mathany via email at [email protected] or by phone at 240-777-7905.

Residents wishing to participate and needing accessibility accommodations or translation services must email Lucia Jimenez at [email protected] at least two business days in advance of the listening session.

All speakers at each of the Listening Sessions will have three minutes to speak. If you have spoken at a previous listening session, you may be placed at the end of the queue to speak again.

If a listening session is canceled due to inclement weather, please submit your written comments to [email protected]Emergency closure information is available at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/cupf/info-cupf/emergency.html.

Members of the public are welcome to submit written comments to the Charter Review Commission on the matters listed above or on any topic that might be appropriate for longer-term study. Public comments can be submitted by email to:

[email protected].

Comments sent by postal mail should be addressed to:

Charter Review Commission

Council Office Building

100 Maryland Ave., 6th Floor

Rockville, MD  20850

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Admission is free, and attendees will also be able to explore a marketplace of books and food offerings from local vendors.

Not your average book festival! This festival offers something for everyone!

17th Annual Kensington Day of the Book Festival

Sunday, April 21, 2024, 11am-4pm (held rain or shine!)

Howard Avenue, Kensington, MD 20895

www.dayofthebook.com

Instagram: @kensingtonbookfestival

Contact: Elisenda Sola-Sole, Festival Director

[email protected]

301-949-9416 (text preferred)

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Get ready to experience the vibrant colors, tantalizing flavors, and infectious rhythms of the Caribbean at the FEST OF SPRING Caribbean Wine Food & Music Festival! Hosted by RHU LLC, this exciting festival is set to take place on May 18, 2024, at the picturesque 16700 Barnesville Rd in Boyds, MD.

Step into a world where the Caribbean spirit comes alive! From 12:00 PM onwards, immerse yourself in a sensory journey that celebrates the unique culture, cuisine, and music of the Caribbean. Whether you're an African American, a Reggae or Soca music enthusiast, a wine lover, or part of the vibrant Caribbean diaspora, this festival promises to delight and captivate you in every way.

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Accompanying the culinary extravaganza is a carefully curated selection of premium wines, ensuring the perfect pairing for your palate. Sip on fine wines from renowned vineyards, each sip a reflection of the Caribbean's vibrant spirit. Discover new flavors, expand your wine knowledge, and savor unforgettable moments with every glass.

As the sun sets, get ready to groove to the infectious rhythms of Caribbean music. Feel the pulsating beats of reggae, soca, dancehall, and calypso, moving your body to the lively melodies. Live performances by talented musicians and performers will keep the energy high, ensuring a night of unforgettable entertainment.

Don't miss this opportunity to embrace the Caribbean spirit and celebrate the arrival of spring in style! Tickets are available on AllEvents, so secure your spot today. Join us at the FEST OF SPRING Caribbean Wine Food & Music Festival, where cultures collide and unforgettable memories are made.

LIVE PERFORMANCES By: CULTURE Feat. Kenyatta Hill, EXCO LEVI, IMAGE BAND, RAS LIDJ REGG'GO with Special Guest SUGAR BEAR FROM E.U. & MORE! & MORE!

MUSIC By: DJ ABLAZE, DJ SMALLY & NAJ SUPREME

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