FY18 Budget Remarks
May 18, 2017
Since the Great Recession, we have had to make tough choices in order to close significant budget gaps. We can agree that the path to fiscal recovery has not been an easy one. Nonetheless, in FY17 we approved a “course-correction” budget that prioritized our school system’s growing needs, a system that has added 20,000 students with great needs since 2007.
For FY18 we have taken a balanced approach, and as Chair of the Government, Operations and Fiscal Policy committee I am proud to report that we have adhered to our adopted fiscal policies and responsible Spending Affordability Guidelines. We were able to fully fund our public employee union’s negotiated agreements.
We have strengthened our safety net by funding, and adding additional staff capacity to programs, and non-profits that help those who need it most. The Council funded over $3 million in community grants, and an additional $8 million for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS), including $600,146 to restore the County Executive’s one percent non-profit contracts reduction. We also increased County contracts with eligible nonprofits by 2 percent.
We continue to address the opportunity gap by funding programs that support children and youth, recreation, and expanding accessible, affordable, high quality early care education and after school programs by funding: forty slots in CentroNia, converting to full-time 10 additional Head Start classrooms, investing $2 million in reducing WPA subsidy waitlist for 0-5 year old children, adding funds for the Care for Kids Program and Montgomery Cares, adding two additional sites for Safe Spaces—a positive youth development initiative for vulnerable youth, and increasing quality after school activities at three elementary schools.
This budget also protects our neighborhoods by increasing the number of police officers in targeted areas, such as Wheaton. I proposed and got funding for three additional officers. This Council has always been fully committed to our transportation priorities, which is why we added funding for key transportation services and infrastructure projects along Route 29. I am extremely pleased the Council added $1 million to the Public Election Fund to support clean elections. This brings the total Fund to $11 million as recommended by the Citizens Commission to Recommend Funding for the Public Election Fund. It’s gratifying to know that our program has become a model for other jurisdictions in Maryland.
We continue to support our economic development efforts, as well as our workforce development initiatives. On this note, I led the effort to include $200,000 in initial funds to fund Bill 6-12 SBAP, which will send a strong signal to business owners in Wheaton that the County is prepared to respond. I was proud of the support to add a position to provide additional capacity within the Department of Finance to carry out the duties as specified by this Bill.
Budgets are about tough choices but they are also a reflection of our values and who we are as a society. As a community, we are making investments today that will ensure a brighter future for all of our residents. I want to thank the Council fifth floor staff for their outstanding work ethic and commitment to giving the Council the best analysis available; our outstanding public employees— your service and dedication is what makes this County a great place to live, work and play; our County Executive for sending a responsible budget; Council President Berliner for his steady leadership during this process; and, my colleagues, in particular my GO committee members Katz and Riemer for their diligent work in advancing our priorities.
Finally and most importantly, I want to thank our constituents for their trust, their extensive feedback, and the daily contributions they make to our great County!
Since before running for elected office, I’ve been a childcare advocate, consumer, and practitioner. I used to run a licensed family childcare business at my previous home in Wheaton. A few years after starting this, I founded a nonprofit called Centro Familia to help train other family childcare providers about opening licensed family child care business out of their homes. The need for affordable, quality childcare and early education far outpaces the supply in the County, and this remains a challenge. There is plenty of evidence that suggests being ready for kindergarten determines the trajectory of a student’s educational career and socioeconomic success. The most strategic and effective interventions occur at the earliest possible moment in a child’s academic life.
This morning, the Montgomery County MD Council’s Education Committee and the Health and Human Services Committee will meet jointly to review the findings of the Office of Legislative Oversight’s (OLO) report Pre-K in Montgomery County and Other Jurisdictions. In February, OLO released this report on Pre-K programs, benefits, best-practices and estimated costs to expand Pre-K in the County.
The joint committee will meet in the Seventh Floor Conference Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville. This worksession is also televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM), which can be viewed on Cable Channels 996 (high definition) and 6 (standard definition) on Comcast; Channels 1056 (HD) and 6 (SD) on RCN; and Channel 30 on Verizon. It is also available live via streaming through the Council web site.
You can learn more about some of the County initiatives related to this topic below.
Joint Statement: Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and the Montgomery County Council County Leaders Reaffirm Community Values
Montgomery County is committed to building and maintaining a safe and inclusive community for our residents. Understanding, tolerance, and respect are hallmarks of the Montgomery County way. Social justice for all is what we strive to achieve in our County.
We greatly regret the anxiety that has been stoked among many in our community as a result of the President’s Executive Orders. We issue this statement to assure all of our residents that those orders will not change the way that County police officers or County workers interact with the public and will not impact how we provide social services.
It is longstanding County policy that County police do not enforce federal immigration law. Neither will they inquire about immigration status when individuals are stopped nor target individuals based on their ethnicity, race, or religious beliefs.
The County’s law enforcement leaders are also committed to our values, and they will continue working to build trust in our community. Police Chief Tom Manger, Corrections and Rehabilitation Director Rob Green, Sheriff Darren Popkin, and State’s Attorney John McCarthy are sworn to protect the rights of all residents and to treat all individuals equally.
Your County leaders stand ready to take the steps necessary to defend our values and maintain the integrity of our community. Executive orders are not self-executing. They require additional actions by federal agencies to be implemented. In addition, executive orders are subject to public scrutiny and legal challenges.
Montgomery County has a long history of working to promote community safety and trust among its residents regardless of their culture, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. In 2011 the Council passed a resolution to promote public trust in government and law enforcement to ensure that that the federal Secure Communities initiative was implemented consistent with its stated purpose.
In November 2016, the Council approved a resolution reaffirming community safety and trust and denouncing anti-immigrant activity, racial bias, and discrimination. Also in November, the County Executive initiated solidarity with our friends and neighbors from all walks of life at the “Stand Up for the Montgomery Way” rally, which was a strong and broadly shared public declaration of our collective values.
Montgomery County remains steadfast in its commitment to fairness, justice, and equal treatment under the law. We believe that no deportations should take place without ensuring that individuals to be deported receive adequate representation and due process of law under the Constitution. Regardless of immigration status, we will uphold the Fourth Amendment rights of our residents.
As your local leaders we will continue to speak out on behalf of all of our residents to promote the values that define our community. Montgomery County will remain an inclusive and welcoming place to live, work, and raise a family.
Residents who are in need of legal resources or support services are encouraged to dial 311 for help or visit the MC311 web page at: http://www3.montgomerycountymd.gov/311/Home.aspx .
Montgomery Council committees to discuss New York City’s plan to implement its ‘Pre-K for All’ Program
Also on Thursday, Jan. 26: Moving ahead on
White Oak Science Gateway Redevelopment
ROCKVILLE, Md., January 25, 2017—The Montgomery County Council’s Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee and its Education Committee will meet jointly at 1:45 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 26, to receive a briefing on New York City’s efforts to implement its “Pre-K for All” program. Councilmembers have long expressed interest in expanding quality early childhood education and care services, including Pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) opportunities to ensure that children enter kindergarten ready to learn.
The HHS Committee, which is chaired by Councilmember George Leventhal and includes Councilmembers Roger Berliner and Craig Rice, and the Education committee, which is chaired by Councilmember Rice and includes Councilmembers Marc Elrich and Nancy Navarro, will meet in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The meeting will be will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM), which can be viewed on Cable Channels 996 (high definition) and 6 (standard definition) on Comcast; Channels 1056 (HD) and 6 (SD) on RCN; and Channel 30 on Verizon. The sessions also will be available live via streaming through the Council web site at http://tinyurl.com/z9982v8 .
The joint committee requested the briefing to gain insight on how New York City funded and implemented its full-day, universal pre-K program over a two-year expansion period.
New York City representatives expected to talk with the Council by conference call include:
- Richard Buery, deputy mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives
- Josh Wallack, deputy chancellor of Strategy and Policy in its Department of Education
- Charissa Townsend, policy advisor in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives
- Jeyla Mammadova, special projects coordinator for Pre-K for All
County representatives expected to participate in the briefing include:
- JoAnn Barnes, chief of Children, Youth, and Families in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
- Monica Ortiz-Neustrup, DHHS early care and education policy officer
- Deann Collins, director of the Division of Title I and Early Childhood Programs for Montgomery County Public Schools
“High-quality universal pre-kindergarten programs are key to leveling the playing field for all of our children and helping to close the opportunity gap,” said Councilmember Navarro, who has served as a member of President Obama’s Advisory Commission on Education Excellence for Hispanics. “We have seen results working with our community Pre-kindergarten providers and Montgomery County Public Schools, but I believe it’s time for us to follow the New York City model where every child has access to high-quality early learning programs. I am excited to learn from the experience of New York City leaders, and I am committed to expanding Pre-kindergarten programs in Montgomery County.”
The background and highlights of the New York City program include:
- In his campaign for New York City mayor in 2012, Bill de Blasio pledged the creation of universal full-day Pre-K funded by an income tax surcharge. After Mayor de Blasio’s election, the state legislature agreed to provide $300 million each year for five years to fund universal Pre-K in New York City in 2014.
- New York City offers free, high quality, full-day Pre-K to all 4-year-olds in its five boroughs. As of the first day of the 2016-17 school year, more than 70,400 children were registered in Pre-K for All—an increase from 19,287 prior to the expansion of Pre-K for All.
- The two-year expansion effort began in the 2014-15 school year and focused not only on ensuring access but also on investing in Pre-K quality. The New York model implements research-based instruction and family engagement practices and provides differentiated support at the classroom and program levels using program quality data and standards.
The New York model uses a mixed delivery system for Pre-K services that are provided through district schools, New York City Department of Education Pre-K Centers and community-based providers (New York City Early Education Centers). Almost 60 percent of Pre-K students are enrolled in early education centers.
At 9:30 a.m. in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room, the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee, which is chaired by Councilmember Navarro and includes Councilmembers Sidney Katz and Hans Riemer, and the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee, which is chaired by Councilmember Nancy Floreen and includes Councilmembers Riemer and George Leventhal, will address issues related to the White Oak Science Gateway Redevelopment Project.One issue that will be discussed is County Executive Ike Leggett’s recommendation of an amendment to the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) and supplemental appropriation to the Fiscal Year 2017 Capital Budget in the amount of $47.2 million.
The funds would go toward the demolition of on-site buildings for the Site II Property on Industrial Parkway in Silver Spring and construction of master-planned roads.The joint committee also will receive an update on White Oak redevelopment from Peter Fosselman, the White Oak Science Gateway implementation coordinator.
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She assures community members that County will continue to be a welcoming community for all residents
ROCKVILLE, Md., Jan. 25, 2017—Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro expressed outrage about the executive orders President Trump signed today on immigration that could eviscerate U.S. immigration policies, expand deportations and impact funding for local communities. In addition, Councilmember Navarro reiterated the County’s support for all of its residents.
“I am outraged that President Trump has chosen to single-handedly obliterate protections for many of our residents who are working hard for a better life in our County and in counties and cities across America,” said Councilmember Navarro, who is the first Latina to serve as a Councilmember in Montgomery County. “This type of punitive action has set the tone for the Trump presidency, and it is an affront to our way of life in Montgomery County. His rhetoric has become reality, and we have to stand up for all of our residents.”
Montgomery County has a long history of working to promote community safety and trust among its residents regardless of race, ethnicity, culture or religion. For example, in 2011 Councilmember Navarro spearheaded the passage of a Council resolution to promote public trust in government and law enforcement to ensure that that the federal Secure Communities program was being implemented consistent with its stated purpose. In November 2016, the Council approved a resolution reaffirming community safety and trust and denouncing anti-immigrant activity, racial bias and discrimination.
Montgomery County is known for its diversity. More than 70 percent of students in Montgomery County Public Schools are Hispanic/Latino, African American or multi-racial.
“We will not allow President Trump to turn back the clock on the progress we have made to build trust among people of all races, ethnicities and religions,” said Councilmember Navarro. “Our diversity is our strength. We will not let a culture of fear take hold in our community.”
The Montgomery County Police Department plays no role in enforcing federal immigration law; however, they do cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). For example, ICE is notified if individuals they are interested in are being released from County facilities, and the County honors ICE criminal detainers.
To read the full text of Resolution 17-108 on promoting community safety and trust among residents and the County’s law enforcement agencies, go to: http://tinyurl.com/z29lade .
To read the full text of Resolution 18-673 on reaffirming community safety and trust and denouncing anti-immigrant activity, racial bias and discrimination, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, hate speech, hate crimes and harassment in Montgomery County, go to: http://tinyurl.com/gm5h2wp .
Residents in need of legal resources or support services should dial 311 or visit the web page for MC311 at: http://tinyurl.com/72tf9g4 .
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Approval of Bill 12-16 makes Montgomery one of the
first jurisdictions in the nation with $15 minimum wage
ROCKVILLE, Md., January 17, 2017—The Montgomery County Council today approved Bill 12-16 that will gradually increase the County minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020. Five amendments to the original bill were approved before the Council voted 5-4 to approve the amended bill, making Montgomery one of the first jurisdictions in the nation to approve a $15 per hour minimum wage.
Councilmember Marc Elrich was the lead sponsor of Bill 12-16 to increase the County minimum wage incrementally beyond the $11.50 per hour minimum, effective July 1, 2017, that is provided for under current law. Councilmembers Tom Hucker, George Leventhal, Nancy Navarro and Hans Riemer were co-sponsors. Those five voted to approve the amended bill. Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Nancy Floreen, Sidney Katz and Craig Rice voted against the amended bill.
The bill now goes to County Executive Ike Leggett for his signature.
More information about Bill 12-16 and its amendments can be found at:
Prior to the vote on the amended bill, the Council considered a proposal to conduct a study of the impact of increasing the minimum wage and delay voting on a Bill 12-16 until after the study was completed. The proposal to conduct the study was defeated by a 5-4 vote with Councilmembers Elrich, Hucker, Leventhal, Navarro and Riemer voting against conducting the study. Councilmembers Berliner, Floreen, Katz and Rice supported conducting a study.
As enacted, Bill 12-16 will:
- Extend the incremental increases set in County law to go up to $15 per hour effective July 1, 2020 for employers with 26 or more employees. Under the bill’s transition provisions, the County minimum wage for these employers would increase to $12.50 in 2018, $13.75 in 2019 and $15.00 in 2020.
- Require, beginning in 20212023, annual adjustments to the minimum wage by the annual average increase, if any, in the Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners and clerical workers for the previous calendar year.
Among the amendments approved was one proposed by Councilmembers Elrich and Leventhal that changes the minimum wage schedule for businesses employers with 25 or fewer employees so that they reach $15 per hour two years later than larger employers. The phase in schedule for those the smaller businesses employers will be $12 per hour effective July 1, 2018; $12.75 per hour on July 1, 2019; $13.50 per hour on July 1, 2020; $14.25 per hour on July 1, 2021; and $15 per hour on July 1, 2022.
Another amendment proposed by Councilmembers Elrich and Leventhal and approved would give the County Executive the ability to stop pause implementation of a scheduled increase if economic conditions worsen. The conditions that could trigger a pause are: if total private employment for Montgomery County decreases decreased by 1.5 percent over the period from April 1 to June 30 of the previous year; total private employment for Montgomery County decreased by 2.0 percent over the period from Jan. 1 to June 30 of the previous year; the Gross Domestic Product of the United States experiences negative growth for the preceding two quarters: or the National Bureau of Economic Research determines that the United States economy is in recession.
An amendment proposed by Councilmember Riemer and approved will require the County’s Office of Legislative Oversight to monitor the impact of increases in the County minimum wage and provide annual reports to the Council on the impacts.
“I can’t look at this issue any other way than from the bottom up,” said Councilmember Elrich. “With this increase, we make it clear that we believe that an honest day’s work should result in an honest day’s pay and not leave a working person mired in poverty. Helping people lift themselves out of poverty benefits all of us.
“Raising the minimum wage means that the tens of thousands of families that will be affected. They will now be more likely to meet their basic needs, and enjoy greater stability. And local businesses will benefit when more of our residents have more money to spend in the local economy. I understand the concerns of some business owners, and we have extended the phase in period for small businesses until 2022, and we have provided provisions for a pause in the increases when economic conditions warrant it. But I do not think that those concerns should trump what is a fundamental social justice issue: people who work should be able to make a living, put a roof over their heads and feed and clothes their families.
“When FDR put forward the original minimum wage, it was explicitly to insure a wage that meets basic needs. Sadly, that link between the minimum wage and meeting basic needs has been shattered and it is time to recouple wages to the original purpose of the minimum wage. I thank my colleagues and all the many people who worked for and supported this bill.”
Councilmember Leventhal said: “I am proud to vote for Bill 12-16 this morning. Today’s vote sends the message that I stand with hard working families struggling to get by on poverty wages.”
Councilmember Navarro said: “I was proud to co-sponsor and cast my vote to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. As we celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., yesterday, I was reminded of his quote: ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ While increasing the minimum wage will not solve the vexing issue of poverty, it is an important step forward in alleviating income inequality of our County.”
Council Vice President Riemer said: “I was very proud to cosponsor and cast my vote for a $15 minimum wage in Montgomery County. This is one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S. A higher minimum wage will help the poorest among us make ends meet, and when workers have more money in their pockets the local economy has stronger consumers—which is good for everyone. I am also grateful to my colleagues for supporting my amendment calling for the Council to receive an annual report on the local economy so that we can carefully track the impact of our minimum wage. No policy is without tradeoffs, but there are also great costs if we fail to act, including children living in poverty, economic insecurity and growing inequality. These are the problems that I am most compelled to address.”
Councilmember Floreen said: “I certainly support increasing the minimum wage to $15 nationally or even regionally. However, for Montgomery County to raise our minimum wage when surrounding jurisdictions do not raise theirs risks putting us at a competitive disadvantage for job creation. What people want most is a job, and we need to make sure we have an environment that supports job growth.”
Councilmember Katz said: “My vote against this bill was a reflection of my concern that we do not have enough information to pass the best legislation possible. I sincerely believe that the best path forward for this complex discussion would have been to get more information based on Montgomery County’s unique situation. I am very concerned that we do not know the full scope of the impact on the County budget and I am worried that there will be some businesses that will close and others will be forced to decrease the hours of some employees. I think the best way to have avoided this would have been to base our decision on more information—this would not have delayed implementation at all.”
In 2013, the Council enacted Bill 27-13 that established a County minimum wage for County employees and private sector employees working in the County, unless the state or federal minimum wage is higher. Bill 24-15 modified the method for calculating the “tip credit” allowed to employers of tipped employees.
The County minimum wage established under Bill 27-13 is being phased in over several years. The rate was set at $8.40 per hour effective Oct. 1, 2014, and increased to $9.55 per hour on Oct.1, 2015. It increased to $10.75 on July 1, 2016, and will go to $11.50 per hour on July 1, 2017.
The County minimum wage does not apply to a worker who is exempt from the state or federal minimum wage, is under the age of 19 years and is employed no more than 20 hours per week or subject to an “opportunity wage” under the state or federal law. Employers of tipped employees may include in the computation of their wage amount a “tip credit” not exceeding the County minimum wage less $4.00 per hour.
The District of Columbia enacted a law in June 2016 increasing the minimum wage to $15 by 2020. California and New York have enacted statewide laws that will increase the minimum wage for at least some workers to $15 per hour over a period of years. In the November 2016 election, voters in Maine, Arizona and Colorado all voted to increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020, and Washington State voters approved a raise to $13.50 an hour by that year. In Arizona, voters in the City of Flagstaff approved an additional minimum wage initiative to increase the minimum wage in Flagstaff to $15 an hour in 2021.
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Apprentice artists with Arts on the Block’s (AOB) Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County-sponsored program, “Pour Your ART Out” (PYAO), spent more than 200 hours designing, refining, presenting and cutting tile for a 7-foot diameter vertical sundial and 34, 16-inch medallions all made out of glass mosaic tiles. The tiles adorn the Wheaton Clock in downtown Wheaton, at the cross section of Grandview and Ennals Avenues. There will be a dedication ceremony for the Wheaton Clock installation on Saturday, December 17, at 3 p.m. at the clock’s site for anyone who wishes to attend.
“The beautification of the Wheaton Clock Tower is another example of the outstanding work sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County,” said County Councilmember Nancy Navarro (@nancy_navarro). “Young people in Wheaton have so much to contribute to their community, and this project demonstrates their limitless creativity. I am excited about the nearly $150 million redevelopment program that is set to begin next year, enhancing what is already an outstanding place to live and do business.”
Wheaton residents made design contributions by drawing what they felt best represented their community on paper plates during the April 2015 Taste of Wheaton event. Local student apprentices were inspired by the recurring themes that make Wheaton special, such as its diversity in people, culture and food.
“The Wheaton Clock Tower has been a fixture in downtown Wheaton since 1988 when it was installed as part of the re-development of the corner shopping plaza,” explains Director of the Mid-County Regional Service Office Luisa Montero (@WheatonMD). “With the anticipation of the Wheaton Town Plaza and its public art and performance stage, the newly adorned clock tower will serve as another example of the wonderful art and artists that exist in the Wheaton Arts and Entertainment District.”
PYAO provides high school students the opportunity to become apprentice artists to learn about and develop workforce skills that can be used in any career.
Funding for this project was made possible by two Wheaton Cultural Grants in FY15 and 16 from the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County. In-kind support was provided by the Wheaton Urban District and Mid-County Regional Service Center.
AOB is entering the 14th year of empowering Maryland and DC youth with a unique cross section of art and design, job readiness and youth development programming.
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Montgomery Councilmember Nancy Navarro celebrates the grand opening of ALDI grocery store in Silver Spring
Zoning changes spearheaded by Councilmember Navarro
helped enable revitalization of Plaza del Mercado
and attract international grocery chain
ROCKVILLE, Md., Dec. 1, 2016—Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro was a special guest at today’s grand opening of a new ALDI Supermarket located in the Plaza del Mercado at 2223 Bel Pre Rd. in Silver Spring. Councilmember Navarro collaborated with area residents and Federal Realty to determine what would be needed to revitalize Plaza del Mercado, which is a hub for community shopping in the area. This collaboration led to Councilmember Navarro spearheading the zoning changes needed to help attract ALDI to the area.
When Giant Food closed its Bel Pre Road location, residents from Aspen Hill and Silver Spring lacked convenient and affordable grocery options. Federal Realty, which owns Plaza del Mercado, went to work to secure key anchor tenants for the shopping center, but its options were limited by the County’s existing zoning laws.
Councilmember Navarro took action by introducing a Zoning Text Amendment, which was enacted by the Council in 2014, that helped clear the way for Plaza del Mercado, and other similarly situated shopping centers in convenience commercial (C-1) zones, to redevelop. These zoning changes enabled Federal Realty to attract a wider pool of retail tenants and helped secure ALDI and LA Fitness as two essential anchors for the shopping center.
In addition to the new grocery store and fitness center, Federal Realty is making investments at Plaza del Mercado that will create a town square, outdoor seating and green space that will help revitalize the area.
“I have spoken out consistently about possible ‘retail redlining’, where retailers choose not to enter certain neighborhoods even when the economic demographics of the area could easily support quality retail,” said Councilmember Navarro, who chairs the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee. “For too long, many neighborhoods in District 4 have lacked the amenities they deserve. Federal Realty should be commended for not giving up and successfully finding a grocery store to locate at Plaza del Mercado. All neighborhoods throughout Montgomery County should have quality, affordable and convenient amenities to serve the needs of our residents.”
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Councilmember Elrich was the lead sponsor and
Councilmembers Navarro and Hucker were co-sponsors
of Bill 19-15 that will impact leases,
licensing and rent adjustments
ROCKVILLE, Md., November 29, 2016—The Montgomery County Council today unanimously approved amended Bill 19-15 that addresses issues with landlord-tenant relations. Councilmember Marc Elrich was the lead sponsor of the bill and Councilmembers Nancy Navarro and Tom Hucker were co-sponsors.
The Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee, which is chaired by Councilmember Nancy Floreen and includes Councilmembers George Leventhal and Hans Riemer, held five worksessions on the bill that would make several changes to the landlord-tenant law principally aimed at enhancing the existing rights of tenants and improving the quality of rental housing through increased inspections. The PHED Committee heard from panels of stakeholders during three of the worksessions.
The Council staff report on the bill can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/z9mo2o4 .
“Passage of this bill is an important step towards enacting common sense reforms for tenants, who make up about one-third of our County’s residents,” said Councilmember Elrich. “This bill will help bring transparency to the leasing process, give tenants some additional information and rights and increase inspections of rental units. Recent events have demonstrated the importance of more frequent and thorough inspections. Too many tenants refrain from asking for repairs to their units, fearing retaliation from landlords. They deserve better—and this bill offers some help and fairness.”
Councilmember Navarro said: “Today, the Council has taken an important step to protect renters in Montgomery County. Bill 19-15 provides much-needed transparency in the leasing process and increased enforcement to ensure our residents live in safe, sanitary conditions. This bill increases stability for renters and implements important safeguards against landlords who choose to cut corners in maintaining their property. I am proud to have been an original cosponsor of this legislation and look forward to funding these new initiatives through our budget process.”
Said Councilmember Hucker: “This bill is a victory for the hundreds of thousands of residents who live in rental housing. Every Montgomery County tenant deserves a safe and healthy home, and today we are taking steps—by beefing up inspections and increasing transparency and accountability—to ensure irresponsible landlords cannot force any family to live in dangerous and unsanitary conditions. I am proud to have strongly supported this bill for the last year and to have worked with a broad coalition of housing advocates and community organizations to get it across the finish line. I am also grateful that the Council supported my amendments to create a vigorous inspection regime focused on the worst health and safety problems, as well as promoting transparency so that violations can be tracked.”
The major provisions of approved Bill 19-15 will:
- Provide tenants with greater transparency about their rights and obligations under a lease.
- Require the Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA) to inspect a sample of every multi-family rental property over the next two years to establish baseline information about the condition of the County’s rental housing stock.
- Focus ongoing enforcement resources on properties with significant health and safety issues and properties with numerous code violations.
- Provide clearer information about the state of rental units in the County via improved data collection and publication.
- Provide many benefits to tenants that should improve the stability and quality of their living arrangements.
Other provisions in the bill will:
- Require each lease to include a plain language summary of a tenant’s rights and responsibilities.
- Require DHCA to conduct a two-year intensive inspection schedule (twice the current number of inspections, prioritized by need).
- Require DHCA to provide annual reports to Council and County Executive about past and upcoming year inspections.
- Require certain properties to be inspected more frequently than the current triennial schedule (based on type and severity of violations).
- Require landlords to pay the cost of subsequent inspections, if a property needs multiple inspections for uncorrected violations.
- Require that tenants can make certain repairs when authorized by the DHCA director or his designee, if DHCA orders a repair and the landlord fails to correct the issue in the allotted time.
- Requires lease renewal terms of two years, if the landlord is offering renewal.
Approved Bill 19-15 also provides tenants with greater access to information including:
- Improvement of the availability of landlord-tenant handbooks.
- Requiring landlords to provide tenants with more information about utility bills in older buildings.
- Requiring landlords to give 60 days’ notice if the landlord intends to terminate the tenancy at the end of a lease term, and 90 days’ notice for all rent increases.
- Requiring DHCA to publish certain data from the annual rental housing survey on its web site.
- Requiring that tenant organizations be allowed to use available meeting space for free once per month.
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