Accountability and Trust


Accountability and Trust


Our only currency in public life is public trust. Unethical behavior by public officials at all levels of government has brought to light significant ways in which we must strengthen our ethics laws to ensure those in public service cannot use their position for private gain.

Yesterday, I introduced the Public Accountability and County Transparency (PACT) Act and a companion bill that would end the controversial practice of severance payments for public employees.

The PACT Act would: require public disclosures of the sale of books and other types of intellectual property by county officials; prohibit the Chief Administrative Officer - the County’s highest ranking appointed official who oversees the day-to-day operations of our local government - from other employment; require County appointees and elected officials to disclose sources of fees of more than $1,000 collected from clients through outside employment; mandate disclosure of contracts for Executive Branch appointees; and establish specific safeguards to avoid potential conflicts of interest in County procurements.

The severance bill would end the troubling practice of using taxpayer dollars to compensate appointed officials in the unregulated and often undisclosed fashion of discretionary severance pay. It would also prohibit any form of separation pay for an employee who admits to violating or was found to have violated the County's Ethics Law.

The residents we're so fortunate to represent deserve and expect County leaders to follow the highest ethical standards. The work of local government depends on it. 

Thank you to Council President Sidney Katz, and Councilmembers Craig Rice, Evan Glass, Nancy Navarro, and Tom Hucker for co-sponsoring both pieces of legislation. The public hearings for the bills are scheduled for 1:30 PM on October 20th.

Relief for Local Hard-Hit Businesses

Yesterday, our bill to select a uniform annual $15 trader's license fee for local retailers and restaurants was approved. This change will save many businesses hundreds of dollars a year and remove a needless administrative burden. It’s a commonsense approach to provide modest relief to local businesses in this extremely difficult time when so many are struggling to keep their lights on. 

It's also critical that local business owners who have incurred costs for restarting operations take advantage of Reopen Montgomery, the reimbursement program we crafted via a special appropriation. Restaurants that have purchased outdoor tents or heating equipment for the fall, retailers that have purchased contactless payment systems or installed glass safety dividers, or office-based businesses that have purchased cleaning supplies or made upgrades to their HVAC systems could access up to $5,000 in reimbursements for those costs. 

This funding is available only for a limited time. Reach out now to the staff at the Montgomery County Business Portal to start the application process.

Reducing Energy Use and Greening Buildings


I'm excited about another of our bills the Council approved yesterday that will dramatically improve our County's green building property tax program -- accelerating the construction of highly-energy efficient commercial and multifamily buildings and green retrofitting of existing buildings.

We introduced Bill 10-20 earlier this year to implement the recommendations of a work group of County government officials, climate advocates, and local real estate representatives that over the course of a year scrutinized the County's current green building tax credit and identified a number of important ways to ensure the tax credit is incentivizing actual energy reduction going forward.

It's an important demonstration of the public and private sectors working together to find real solutions to combat the climate crisis. With the approval of this legislation, building owners will now be eligible for tax credits only when they put in place energy-saving and green energy measures that go above and beyond the requirements of the County's green building code -- which itself is regularly updated and strengthened. 

The more energy reduced in a building above and beyond what's required, the higher the potential tax credit. In our County, where the most recent greenhouse gas emissions data found energy consumption in commercial buildings accounts for 26 percent of all emissions in the County, this is a critical area for improvement in order to meet our ambitious climate goals. 

Reviewing the County Growth Policy (Subdivision Staging Policy)

The Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP) is the tool by which the County coordinates the timing and pace of new developments with the availability of public services and facilities. It tests the County’s infrastructure for adequacy based on projected capacity and growth. The policy is updated every four years to ensure that the tools used for evaluating the impact of development, such as transportation tests or student generation rates, reflect the latest growth patterns and trends in the County. Its purpose is to evaluate individual proposals for development, to determine if the County’s public infrastructure is adequate to meet the demands of such development and to set transportation and school impact tax rates accordingly. The current set of Planning Board recommendations attempt to fine-tune these policy decisions by better aligning our county’s desired growth patterns with our tax policies and better aligning infrastructure improvements with our multi-modal, transit oriented development, sustainability, and Vison Zero goals.

County Code requires the Planning Board to approve and send to the Council a recommended Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP) by August 1st every four years. The Council must review and approve an updated SSP by November 15th.

Thank you to all who have written in sharing your thoughts on the proposed policy. We are reading them all and will be taking your views into consideration as we deliberate in committee before transmitting recommendations to the full Council. Our work on this issue has just begun. The Government Operations Committee and the Planning, Housing, and Economic Development Committee will hold several more work sessions on the SSP and related legislation in the coming weeks. The schedule below is tentative and subject to change so please check the Council website for changes. All work sessions will be streamed live on the Council web page and aired on County Cable television (Verizon channel 30 and Comcast channel 6). You can also watch on your computer or phone through youtube.

Upcoming Subdivision Staging Policy (Growth Policy) Work Sessions (Subject to Change)

  • October 5 9:30 AM PHED (SSP school issues/validity period)
  • October 9 10:30 AM PHED (Transportation issues, continued)
  • October 9 1:30 PM GO (Impact Tax issues related to schools and transportation)
  • October 12  9:30AM GO (Impact tax issues relating to schools and transportation)
  • October 13  3:00PM PHED (School and transportation issues, continued)
  • October 20 Tentatively Scheduled for Full Council Worksession
  • October 27 Tentatively Scheduled for Full Council Worksession
  • November 10 Tentatively Scheduled for Full Council Action


Updates to County Covid Guidance

The County Executive and his public health team have been adjusting their guidance as various questions have been raised, including some from our office. Below is a list of the latest updates:

Funding for MCPS & School-Age Providers

This week, the Council approved roughly $34.4 million in CARES Act funding for MCPS, which the State recently disbursed to our school system.  This is in addition to the $24.7 million in CARES Act funding MCPS received in June. These new funds will be used to provide online tutoring services as well as internet access (hotspots) and devices for students who need technology support.

In addition, for school-age children, my office worked with Council President Katz to pass a $7.6 million initiative to help school-age child care providers  keep their organizations afloat through industry-specific reopening grants, and to provide tuition support for low-income students who want to access full-day care during this difficult time. 


Updates and Resources

New State Assisted Housing Relief Program


  • MCPS is providing meals at these sites for students. Meals will be provided at MCPS sites from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM at school sites and from 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM at bus distribution sites. Meals will be provided four days a week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. 


  • Library branch book drops are open and contactless holds pick up service has resumed. 

COVID-19 Renter Relief Act

  • The Council passed the COVID-19 Renter Relief Act, which became effective April 24, 2020 and prohibits landlords from increasing existing tenants’ rent by more than 2.6% after April 24th and during the COVID-19 catastrophic health emergency. FAQs are online.

How You Can Help

  • Volunteer Opportunities: The County has compiled a list on how you can to help. If you are a medical or public health professional willing to assist, the state has a site for specialized volunteers.
  • Give Locally: The Greater Washington Community Foundation has a COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund to bolster nonprofits working to help low-income hourly workers, gig workers, small business owners, families in need of childcare services, homeless individuals and many more who will continue to be severely impacted during this public health emergency. In particular, the County is looking for private matching funds for food security under the Food Security Fund.
  • Support Neighborhood Restaurants: Please support local employers by getting take out or delivery. Search the Visit Montgomery list here.
  • Donate Blood: American Red Cross now faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during this coronavirus outbreak. Sign up for an appointment now.

If You Need Support

  • Domestic Violence: There is support available during this time and all services are free of charge. If you know someone that may need help, the County has a guide on how best to assist them.
    • Contact the Family Justice Center by calling ​​240-773-0444 or emailing ​
    • The National Domestic Violence Hotline (24 hours) can be reached at 800-799-7233
    • There are many organizations available to assist including:
  • Internet: Low income families and older adults can get Home Internet Access for as little as $9.95 per month. Click here for additional information.
  • Food Assistance: Call 311 and you will be connected to our new food call center or you can look at Montgomery County Food Council's Resource Directory, which includes information on the location, hours, and eligibility guidelines of more than 100 sites where residents can access food and benefits application assistance.
    • Poolesville Grocery Distribution Service: Orders can be placed online by visiting Order on Tuesdays before 4:00PM and pickup Thursdays between 2:00-3:30PM at the United Methodist Church in Poolesville. Drivers are asked to remain in their cars as orders will be loaded into the backs of vehicles. If you have any questions please call John at 443-896-7244.
    • Taxi Delivery: The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) announced that it has partnered with local taxi companies during the COVID-19 health crisis to initiate a new program available to participants in the Call-n-Ride program to use taxis for delivery of essential goods from grocery stores, food banks and restaurants. This program is for low-income older adults and individuals with disabilities.
    • For Individuals with Disabilities: The State and other partners are collaborating to supplement existing programs for people with disabilities who may be experiencing food insecurity during this pandemic. To connect with these feeding opportunities, constituents should call 2-1-1.  The  2-1-1 call specialist will connect the caller to a variety of statewide program options. 
    • My Groceries To Go! for Seniors: Montgomery County applicants are required to provide supporting documentation to prove income eligibility. Participants receive get eight pounds of free, fresh produce every month. Please call the Grocery Plus main line at 202-921-7471 or email for more information. The Capital Area Food Bank's website on this program is here.
    • Senior Nutrition Program: Frozen meal packs are available to seniors through the County’s Senior Nutrition Program. Partners and volunteers are operating “grab and go” locations and are making a limited number of home deliveries to the County’s senior population. To be eligible, most people must be 60 years of age or older. Spouses of participants or a person with a disability living with a participant, are also eligible. To register for the meal program contact the Senior Center closest to you. D1 Locations:
  • Health Care: If you do not have insurance and want to get health insurance through the state marketplace, Maryland has a Coronavirus Emergency Special Enrollment period if you have recently lost your job. You can compare prices and possibly receive financial help in order to afford coverage. Apply by December 15th. 
  • Unemployment Claims: You can start your claim online or by phone.
  • Housing Issues: If you are behind on your rent, please click here. If you are facing eviction, please contact our office at 240-777-7828 or dial 311.
  • Seniors: You can sign up now for a new free program called Senior Call Check by calling toll-free to 866-502-0560 or by registering online. Under the program, participants receive an automated call every day. If the participant does not answer, they will be called two additional times in the same day. If those calls go unanswered, an alternate person, selected by the participant, will be notified in order for them to check in on the participant. 

*Additional resources listed at InfoMontgomery