Did You Know? (November 2016) newsletter distributed by the Office of Intergovernmental Relations, Montgomery County, MD

Did You Know?

November 30, 2016

You are subscribed to the “Did You Know?” newsletter distributed by the Office of Intergovernmental Relations, Montgomery County, Maryland. The purpose of this newsletter is to provide updates on key matters relating to intergovernmental relations in Montgomery County and the surrounding region. Our office welcomes input on the types of information that would be helpful to include in this newsletter.

GlaxoSmithKline is Coming Back to Montgomery County

GlaxoSmithKline buildingGlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the global pharmaceutical giant that acquired Montgomery County’s Human Genome Sciences (HGS) in 2012, is consolidating all of its U.S. vaccine R&D centers in Rockville, making Rockville one of GSK’s three global vaccine R&D hubs.  This is incredible news for several reasons.  First, when GSK acquired HGS, they pulled most of HGS’s operation from the Rockville location which was next door to Universities at Shady Grove.  Now, they’re coming back home to the same location.  Second, this means jobs – probably another 400 or 500 – which should bring the total number of GSK employees located in Rockville to about 1,000 over the next few years. 

Arnold Adja is joining IGR as Gene Counihan Legislative Intern

arnold adjaWe are delighted to announce that Arnold Adja will join the Office of Intergovernmental Relations during the 2017 Session as the first Gene Counihan Legislative Intern.  Arnold is in the process of obtaining his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Maryland Baltimore County through the Universities at Shady Grove (USG).  This paid internship is funded by USG’s Internship Scholarship Fund.  Among other things, Arnold will be assisting IGR with implementing a new legislative tracking system, analyzing bills and writing position statements.  We are grateful for USG’s support for this internship and look forward to introducing him to the State Delegation in January.   

County is Preparing for Public Hearings on Local and BiCounty Bills

council sessionIt’s that time of year again! In recent weeks, the County Executive and County Council have been evaluating local and bicounty bills proposed for the 2017 session and developing positions on each bill.  Click here to see a brief summary of the bills and the current status of County Executive and County Council positions.  We look forward to participating in the State Delegation’s public hearings in Rockville next week on behalf of the County Executive and County Council and to working with the delegation as it considers these bills in the coming months. Did you know that the next week’s public hearings on local and bicounty bills can be viewed live on County Cable Montgomery?  You can also view archived videos of last week’s public hearing on County priorities for the 2017 session as well as the State Delegation’s public hearings on local and bicounty bills from prior years. Click here to access those videos.

County Council is Considering Property Tax Credit for Urban Agriculture

urban ag

Did you know that there are urban farms in Montgomery County? Click here for a story about an urban farm in Silver Spring. In 2010 the State enacted legislation authorizing local governments to grant, by law, a five-year property tax credit for urban agricultural property.  However, as of 2014, no County governments had enacted this type of credit.  In 2014, the State enacted legislation to remove the requirement that a property be used exclusively for urban agricultural purposes in order to receive the property tax credit.  In August of this year, Councilmembers Hucker and Elrich introduced a bill in the County Council that would establish an urban agricultural tax credit in Montgomery County. The bill creates a real property tax credit for ''urban agricultural" property, which is defined as property that is (1) not agriculturally zoned; (2) between ½ acre and 5 acres in size; (3) used for specified urban agricultural purposes; and (4) located in a State-defined Priority Funding Area.  The Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee held its first worksession on the bill on November 3rd.   Click here for more details.             

OLO Recently Released a Report on School Construction Costs

schoolOn November 15th, the County Council’s Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO) released 95-page report that compares construction costs in the County with other counties in Maryland and Virginia.  Overall, OLO found that MCPS’ construction costs per square foot increased by 19.0% from FY2008 through FY2015, a rate nearly identical to the national average of 18.0%. However, OLO stressed that square foot cost comparisons, alone, fail to identify root causes of construction cost differences, which are significantly impacted by State and local policies and regulations.  OLO noted that State regulations relating to prevailing wage, minority business enterprises, LEED building standards and stormwater management have a significant impact on construction costs, and that the State funding formula for construction aid is based on inadequate square foot allowances and fails to take into account other variances in school system policies.  Among other things, OLO recommended that the Council consider whether to pursue changes to State regulations that would reduce construction costs and to the State aid construction formula to account for variations in school system policies.  Click here for more details.