Nancy Floreen's Montgomery in Focus, June 2016

Masthead that says Nancy Floreen's Montgomery in Focus

"Education First" Budget

Nancy Floreen

This year we set out to make a major course correction. We committed ourselves to the core goals of closing the educational achievement gap; reducing class sizes across the board; making decisions that are both achievable in the short term and sustainable over time; and ensuring that residents see results for any additional investments we ask them to make.
Two of the four goals relate directly to the classroom, and that’s why we created a historic partnership with the Board of Education to pass an “education first” budget.

With this budget, students and parents can look forward to more teachers, paraeducators, counselors and other student support positions, in addition to expanded programs to support achievement goals and enhance college and career readiness. What’s more, we will be able to construct school revitalizations and additions sooner than expected. Our schools are bursting at the seams, and this relief is long overdue.

While this is an “education first” budget, it isn’t an “education only” budget. As much as many people care about our outstanding school system, we know that others have different priorities. This budget is very much about those people as well.

This budget provides a much-needed boost to police and fire and rescue services as we will be adding more police officers and firefighters and giving them the equipment they need to continue to make this one the safest counties in America. This budget is about libraries, recreation, parks, the safety net, Montgomery College, and transportation programs that help get people around this county better.

This budget means that no matter where you live in the county, if you call an ambulance, you can count on a life-saving response time. Our police force will now be equipped with body cameras. Potholes will be filled, snow will be plowed, grass in parks and on playing fields will be mowed and trees will get planted in the right-of-way. While our unemployment rate has fallen steadily over the past couple of years, our newly privatized program for economic development promises an even better job market in the future. We are going to help new businesses in their early stages and hope they will remain here once they become successful. We are going to aggressively seek to get established businesses to relocate here and we are going to fight to keep the great businesses of all sizes that already call Montgomery County home. Our avid readers and researchers will appreciate the interim Wheaton Library and extended hours at several branches. And students will have better access to after-school enrichment programs.

I want to be clear that this year’s decisions represent more than a one-year budget. They represent a plan for the future. For the first time in eight years, we opted to raise the property tax over the Charter limit. That wasn’t an easy decision, but I am optimistic that we’ve set up a structure that is responsive to our community’s needs and is sustainable over time.

See my full comments on the approved budget or read the press release for all the details.

Five Interviewed for Planning Board

Row of townhouses

The Council recently interviewed five applicants to fill an upcoming vacancy on the Montgomery County Planning Board. Gerald Cichy of Rockville, Mark Firley of Montgomery Village, Dennis Kamber of Poolesville, Tina Patterson of Germantown and David Perdue of Silver Spring were selected from 24 applications to fill the position being vacated by Amy Presley, who has served two terms.
The position can be filled by a Republican, a voter who declines to affiliate with a party or by a member of another party officially recognized by the Montgomery County Board of Elections. We will select the new Planning Board member in June. See the interviews.

Senior Property Tax Deferral

house number 120

The Council just passed a bill that will make it easier for seniors to stay in their homes by deferring property tax increases at no cost for those who choose to participate in the program.
If you are at least 65 years old and have an individual or combined gross incomes of $80,000 or less, you can defer increases on your property taxes until you sell your home. Interest on the deferred taxes will accrue at a zero percent interest rate. Under the income threshold of $80,000—which is the senior median income in the County—the eligibility criteria captures roughly half of senior households in Montgomery County.

Holocaust Survivors Documentary

Tune in to County Cable Montgomery for a new 30-minute documentary that shares the stories of six Holocaust survivors who now live in Montgomery County. The documentary recounts the memories of the six from their days growing up in Europe as the Nazi regime was expanding its reign of terror and expresses why each feels the urgent need to keep those stories alive for future generations.
Stories of Holocaust Survivors in Montgomery County features the experiences of Inga Borisova of Bethesda, Nesse Godin of Silver Spring, Henry Greenbaum of Bethesda, Manny Mandel of Forest Glen, Halina Peabody and Martin Weiss of Bethesda. Each attended a special ceremony and screening at the Council.

Fast Fact

Did you see that the Food and Drug Administration issued sweeping new rules that regulate electronic cigarettes and ban their sale to minors?

Last year the County Council unanimously approved my bill to ban the use of electronic cigarettes wherever traditional tobacco smoking is prohibited and to require child-resistant packaging for liquid nicotine. At that time, we knew that the FDA was looking at electronic cigarettes, but we didn’t know if or when the agency would take action. I was not willing to gamble with our kids’ health and urged the Council not to wait.

I was concerned about health effects of the nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals found in e-cigs. Perhaps swayed by the belief that electronic cigarettes are safe, or emboldened by the fact that e-cigs have little odor that parents could detect, teens who have never tried traditional cigarettes are using e-cigs, putting themselves at risk for nicotine addiction, nicotine poisoning or exposure to harmful chemicals.

Now, I am very pleased that the federal government is following our lead and is taking aggressive steps to keep electronic cigarettes out of the hands of minors.

Green Tip of the Month

Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, is a great time to explore and enjoy the many activities offered by Montgomery Parks, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. There’s something for everyone. Learn more about boating, butterflies, hiking, camping, tennis, golf and so much more. I especially urge you to visit the new additions at Brookside Gardens.

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.

June 2016

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