Nancy Floreen's Montgomery in Focus, January 2016

Masthead that says Nancy Floreen's Montgomery in Focus

What's In and What's Out for 2016

Nancy Floreen presenting a proclamation to Michael Hofmann Winer

In -- Jobs:  Almost 10,000 more County residents have jobs this year.

Out --  Electronic Cigarettes:  The use of electronic cigarettes is banned wherever traditional tobacco smoking is prohibited. The law also requires child-resistant packaging for liquid nicotine. I proposed this legislation because I was not willing to gamble with the health of our current generation of young people.

In -- Science:  Michael Hofmann Winer was named one of three first-place winners in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search competition. He received the First Place Medal of Distinction for Innovation and a cash prize of $150,000.

Out -- Predatory Towing:  The new law limits some of the practices that have led to the predatory towing of vehicles parked on private properties, including a prohibition on the use of spotters.

In -- Good Neighbors:  I presented 20 Golden Shovel awards to recognize residents (like these snow angels) who helped neighbors shovel out after snowfalls during the harsh winter that had seasonal snow totals of up to 46.6 inches in parts of the county.

In -- Aspen Hill:  The Aspen Hill Minor Master Plan Amendment will provide opportunities for re-use of the former Vitro/BAE property in a way that focuses on design and encourages pedestrian use.

Out -- Pesticides:  Having dealt with breast cancer myself, I am particularly sensitive to the need to limit our exposure to toxic chemicals. All residents, and particularly our children, stand to benefit from the County's restrictions on cosmetic use of pesticides.

In -- Budget Savings:  In response to projected revenue shortfalls, we reduced the current fiscal year budget by $54 million in July. This is the first time we approved a savings plan so early in the fiscal year.

In -- New Council Leadership:  I'm very pleased to have been elected Council president in a unanimous vote of my colleagues. Roger Berliner was elected vice president, and we will serve one-year terms.

In -- Economic Development:  Five years ago, in the depth of the Great Recession, we launched the Montgomery Business Development Corporation, a public-private partnership designed to fuel our economy. This past year, we took that achievement to the next level by creating a new Economic Development Corporation -- moving us from a government- to a business-based model for County economic success.

Remarks at Committee for Montgomery

Nancy Floreen speaking at a podium with a sign that says Committee for Montgomery

I was honored to speak about economic development at this year's Committee for Montgomery Legislative Breakfast. This virtual "who's who" of Montgomery County traditionally kicks off the local advocacy efforts for the upcoming  Maryland General Assembly session. The Committee for Montgomery is a coalition of leaders representing a broad cross-section of Montgomery County business, labor, education, civic and community-based organizations. Here are my remarks:

It’s a privilege to be here this morning with so many people who make Montgomery County the great place it is. Thanks to Raymond Sherbill (Chair, Committee for Montgomery), Steve Simon (Breakfast Chair), and everyone who has put together this excellent program. Thanks also to Nancy King and Shane Robinson (Chairs of our Montgomery County Senate and House Delegations) and to our entire Delegation for the partnership they have forged with all of us.

I’m especially pleased to be here with my colleagues on the County Council – Council Vice President Roger Berliner and Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Tom Hucker, Nancy Navarro, Hans Riemer, Sidney Katz, George Leventhal and Craig Rice. Will they and their staff please stand? Know that they work countless hours on behalf of our more than one million residents.

I truly congratulate the Committee for highlighting economic development this year. There can be no question that this needs to be the number one priority for all of us. Only by focusing on job growth and expanding our tax base are we able to preserve and enhance our great County services and -- most important --create opportunities for our residents. That’s why with every legislative choice I make, I ask myself:  How does my decision enhance job growth? How does it expand the tax base? And how am I creating opportunities for all our residents to be self-sufficient and successful?

Five years ago, in the depth of the Great Recession, we launched the Montgomery Business Development Corporation, a public-private partnership designed to fuel our economy. This past year, we took that achievement to the next level. We have created a new Economic Development Corporation -- moving us from a government- to a business-based model for County economic success. We are truly elevating the status of business and job growth in Montgomery County. The State will be a vital partner in this enterprise. So will our region. Once again, I thank the Committee for its wisdom in selecting today’s theme.

This is all the more important since, as you know, our County revenues are disappointing. Here’s our reality check. The Wynne decision alone will cost us 76 million dollars in the next fiscal year. The shift of teacher pension costs will consume another 58 million dollars -- funds that we would much prefer to devote to the classroom. Now there’s a new threat -- the potential loss of 35 million dollars in revenue provided by our Department of Liquor Control. These pressures alone could drive tax increases, and that’s without considering any new initiatives, expanding successful programs or increasing education funding.

Everyone here knows what’s at stake. We must meet our obligations to the community. At the same time we cannot unduly burden our residents or our businesses. But that will require all of us to work together -- in Annapolis and here at home. And it will require us to ask over and over and over again:  How does my decision enhance job growth and expand our tax base? How am I creating opportunities for my community members?

So let us join forces now as we have in the past. Let’s pool our energy and fortitude. Let’s say yes to economic success in Montgomery County and claim the future that our people deserve.

Economic Indicators Briefing

As is our custom, we received a briefing on the County's fiscal plan and economic indicators in the last session of the calendar year. The briefing included lots of important information we will use as we start out budget season in January, including projections of a challenging revenue outlook. Get the background information here or watch the briefing (agenda item 4) here.

Green Tip of the Month

The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection  has planted hundreds of trees this year through Tree Montgomery. This new initiative aims to reverse the loss of tree canopy due to development, storm damage, and the age of many trees in the County. The program is funded by the Tree Canopy Law.

The program began this past spring. Single-family homes, businesses, multi-family properties and homeowner associations (except in Rockville and Gaithersburg) are eligible to request free shade trees from the County. The trees planted through the program are 10-12 feet tall when installed and will grow to over 50 feet tall when fully mature. DEP provides two years of free aftercare, including watering and pruning.

Fast Fact

Nancy Floreen talking with staff at A Wider Circle.

Attention non-profit organizations: the Grants Portal is now open. The deadline to apply for a grant is January 13, and the Council will make its funding decisions at the end of May. If you have further questions, e-mail or call 240-777-7935.

Let's Talk

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 or call 240-777-7959 if you would like me to address a particular topic with your group.

January 2016

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