Councilmember Navarro’s Remarks at the Earned Sick and Safe Leave Bill Signing

Can’t Stop Now: East County Moving Forward

Last week, the County Council voted 7 to 2 in favor of a resolution approving a Declaration of No Further Need (DNFN) for Site II in White Oak. Site II is a 115 acre property that was formerly a Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) waste composting facility. The County has partnered with a private developer to create a “vibrant, mixed-use, transit-oriented” life science village that is envisioned in the recently adopted White Oak Science Gateway Master Plan.

RDC_MoCo_Photo_WhiteOak

Under Bill 11-12, County Property Disposition, the Council is responsible for deciding when surplus County-owned property is no longer needed. In this case, the Site II property in White Oak was purchased by the County for the express purpose of partnering with a private developer to redevelop the site into a hub for the jobs, housing and high-quality amenities that are desperately needed in the East County.

When I was elected to the Council in 2009, one of my top priorities was accelerating the White Oak Science Gateway Master Plan so this project could move forward. The County’s policy of keeping the East County in a development moratorium for decades before my election was and continues to be one of the policies I have sought to reverse since joining the Council. The Council’s vote last week was an important step towards revitalizing the East County by bringing the jobs and amenities that residents in our part of the county deserve.

You can watch a clip of my remarks before the Council’s action here:

Wheaton High School Food Truck Project

Councilmember Navarro’s Remarks on Earned Sick & Safe Leave Bill

Montgomery County Council Unanimously Approves Earned Sick and Safe Leave Bill

Legislation Will Enable Workers to Earn Up to 7 Days Paid Leave Per Year for Reasons of Health, Domestic Abuse

 

ROCKVILLE, Md., June 23, 2015—The Montgomery County Council today unanimously approved Bill 60-14 that will require most employers doing business in the County to provide earned sick and safe leave to employees for work performed in the County. Enactment of the bill makes Montgomery County one of the few local jurisdictions in the nation to have some form of required sick and safe leave requirements for employees.

Earned sick and safe leave is paid leave that can be used for the injury or illness of the employee or the employee’s immediate family. It also can be used for time off needed due to domestic violence suffered by the employee or a member of the employee’s immediate family.
Under Bill 60-14, an employer could provide any type of paid time off that can be used by the employee for each of the purposes outlined in the bill to satisfy the earned sick and safe leave requirement. The bill applies to an employee, but not an independent contractor. The bill also excludes an employee who works less than eight hours a week.

The bill will take effect on Oct. 1, 2016, for most employees it covers.

Council President George Leventhal and Nancy Navarro were the lead sponsors of Bill 60-14. Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Tom Hucker, Hans Riemer and former Councilmember Cherri Branson were co-sponsors. Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Nancy Floreen, Sidney Katz and Craig Rice also voted to enact the bill.

“This policy will improve the lives of working families in our County where more than 100,000 workers currently lack even one paid sick day,” said Council President Leventhal. “More parents will be free from making the heart-wrenching choice between taking care of a sick child or losing a day of pay.”
Bill 60-14 will require an employer to provide earned sick and safe leave at a rate of at least one hour for every 30 hours an employee works in the County up to 56 hours in a calendar year. An employee would have to be paid for earned sick and safe leave at the same rate, and with the same benefits, as the employee normally earns. A tipped employee would have to be paid at least the County minimum wage for each hour the employee uses earned sick and safe leave.

The Council approved an amendment to help small businesses. That amendment provides that an employer with fewer than five employees would have to provide an employee with up to 32 hours of paid sick and safe leave per year plus an additional 24 hours of unpaid sick and safe leave.

“In a progressive and civilized society, workers deserve basic rights,” said Councilmember Navarro. “One of those rights is the ability to take paid, earned leave when they are sick, to care for a loved one, or during a time of crisis. I am pleased Montgomery County is leading once again by passing this bill that reflects our values and brings meaningful protections to thousands of our lowest income and most vulnerable workers.”
At a Jan. 29 public hearing on Bill 60-14, 19 of the 28 speakers supported the bill.

Although the states of California, Connecticut and Massachusetts have instituted some forms of earned sick and safe leave requirements, Montgomery will be joining a handful of local jurisdictions to have such legislation. Those other jurisdictions include the District of Columbia; Jersey City and Newark in New Jersey; New York City; Portland, Ore.; San Diego; San Francisco and Seattle.

Maryland State legislation to mandate earned sick leave was introduced in the General Assembly in 2014 and 2015, but was not enacted.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2014 61 percent of workers in private-industry businesses had paid sick leave, while 89 percent of workers in state and local governments have paid sick leave. Private-industry businesses with fewer than 100 workers provide 52 percent of workers with paid sick leave; in contrast, private employers with more than 100 employees provide 72 percent of employees with paid sick leave. Private industry provides 74 percent of full-time workers with paid sick leave, whereas only 24 percent of part-time workers received the benefit. Nonunion employees are less likely to have paid sick leave than union employees.

Earned Sick & Safe Leave

Sick and Safe Leave

Funding Our Schools, Supporting Our Students

MCPS FY16 Budget

Montgomery County’s Innovative Interactive Fiscal Plan Wins Awards from PTI, NACo

Online ‘Budget Tool’ Allows Users to Input

Alternative Revenue and Expenditures, Shows How They

Would Impact County’s Six-Year Budget Projections

 

ROCKVILLE, Md., June 9, 2015—Montgomery County’s Interactive Fiscal Plan, which features an innovative web-based “budget tool” that enables users to input alternative revenue and expenditure assumptions in the County’s six-year budget projections and see the potential impact, has been awarded a 2015 Achievement Award from the Public Technology Institute (PTI) and a Civic Education and Public Information Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo).

The Interactive Fiscal Plan tool, which was a combined project of the Office of Legislative Oversight and the County Council’s Information Technology staff, was launched in December 2014. Like an online mortgage calculator—which many people have become familiar with in recent years—the budget tool allows users inside government and from the public to experiment with figures of their choosing. This exercise helps users to better understand how structural changes in the County’s six-year budget projections can be impacted by significant changes in revenue or expenditures. The plan can be accessed
here.

The project was inspired by the Council’s request for development of a method to measure the effect of structural budget changes. Led by its Government Operations and Fiscal Policy (GO) Committee, the Council wanted the interactive budget tool to help users better understand how recurring revenue and expenditure patterns influence the ability to achieve balanced budgets in future years.

“My committee has prioritized open government and the innovative use of data,” said Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee Chair Nancy Navarro. “I am incredibly proud of the outstanding work of the Office of Legislative Oversight for this recognition. The Interactive Fiscal Plan is about ensuring our residents not only receive excellent services from the County, but also understand how the decisions policymakers have to grapple with impact those services. I look forward to working with my GO Committee colleagues in seeking out new ways we can create the most transparent and effective government in the nation.”

Each year, the Council approves a six-year fiscal plan. The plan includes operating budget revenue and expenditure estimates for the upcoming six fiscal years based on projections prepared by the County’s Department of Finance and Office of Management and Budget. The Interactive Fiscal Plan measures the effect of inputting alternative revenue and expenditure assumptions. The budget tool calculates the cumulative six-year effect of adjusting the assumed average annual rate of change for major plan variables.

For example, if a user wants to assume more funding should go to a particular agency or program, the budget tool shows that the plan is unbalanced until the user determines from where an equal amount of funds should be decreased. A user could insert numbers showing projected revenue to the County being greater or lesser than the plan indicates—and would then show how the overall projections would be impacted by those assumptions.

“The Interactive Fiscal Plan is a great example of how technology can make government more transparent and user friendly,” said Councilmember Hans Riemer, the Council’s lead member for digital government. “Since the Council passed my Open Data Law in 2012, Montgomery County government has made great strides in making our data easily available and providing it in useful formats that people can understand. Stay tuned for many more developments as we continue to find new ways to use and present data to engage and educate our residents.”

The budget tool helps bring reality and accountability to the budget process. There are constant demands for increased funding in areas important to certain agencies or groups, but those demands often are not accompanied by plans that would show the impact on other areas of the budget.

“We used the budget tool this spring when Interim Superintendent of Schools Larry Bowers, Montgomery College President DeRionne Pollard and I conducted a series of forums around the County to explain the budget process to residents,” said Councilmember Craig Rice. “It quickly proved to be a great help in what we were trying to accomplish and it demonstrated how this could assist anyone who is interested in any aspect of the County operating budget.”

The Public Technology Institute actively supports local government executives and elected officials through research, education, executive-level consulting services and national recognition programs. It is the only technology organization created by and for cities and counties. At its Oct. 11-13 Local Government CIO Summit in Salt Lake City, PTI will recognize the Interactive Fiscal Plan, as well as Montgomery County’s initiatives regarding its GIS Web Portal, its Criminal Justice Case Management System, its Financial Transparency Suite and its Tax Assessment System.

The NACo Award will be presented on July 12 at NACo’s Annual Conference and Exposition in Mecklenburg County, N.C.

The Interactive Fiscal Plan was created through the efforts of Aron Trombka of the Office of Legislative Oversight; Michelle Parsons, Nic Berry and Namita Acharya of the Council’s IT office; Shan Balasubramanian and Veda Raman of the Department of Technology Services; and Rockville-based contractor Technology Digest Inc.

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Montgomery Procurement Task Force Seeks Input from Businesses Through Survey

Information Will Assist Council-Appointed Task Force in

Formulating Recommendations to Improve System

ROCKVILLE, Md., June 5, 2015—The Montgomery County Procurement and Regulations Task Force, which was appointed by the County Council in its efforts to improve the County’s procurement operations, is seeking input from users of the system. The survey seeks opinions about many aspects of the system, including the complexity of the solicitation process and the length of time it takes the County to respond to solicitations.

The task force is asking that responses to the brief online survey be completed by Tuesday, June 30. The survey can be found here.

Anyone experienced with the procurement system is invited to respond to the survey. The task force will use the survey as part of its study, and ensuing recommendations to the Council, on what works in the County’s current procurement and what needs improvement.

“Our task force has met with a variety of County officials from the County Executive to the County Council to employees in County departments,” said David Robbins, who chairs the seven-member task force. “But we need business community input to recommend meaningful reforms. This survey is focused on business community input, and asks open-ended questions to make sure we understand what is working and what improvements are needed.”

The task force is scheduled to have its recommendations to the Council by Sept. 15.

“The Procurement Policies and Regulations Task Force is doing an outstanding job ensuring the views of all stakeholders are represented in their deliberations,” said Councilmember Nancy Navarro, who chairs the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee. “This survey will give voice to business owners who interact with the County’s procurement process on a regular basis. I look forward to seeing the results of the survey and the recommendations of the task force this fall.”

More information about the survey and the task force can be obtained by calling 240-777-7922.

The Council has also appointed another task force looking at how the minority/female/disabled (MFD) and local small business community is being served by the County procurement process. That task force also is scheduled to give a report and recommendations to the Council in September.

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Councilmember Nancy Navarro on the FY16 Budget

 

Statement from Councilmember Nancy Navarro on the Approval of the FY16 Operating Budget:

“This budget affirms our values. We are making important investments in Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery College, and our social safety net.

This is a budget that truly puts young people first. We included $250,000 for the Children’s Opportunity Fund, which is an important first step toward creating a dedicated Children’s Trust. The Council voted to fund the newly created Child Care and Early Education Policy Officer and Child Care Strategic Plan, which was established as part of the Child Care Expansion and Quality Enhancement Initiative, which I sponsored. The Council added more than a half a million dollars to the County Executive’s recommended budget to provide child care subsidies to the lowest income families in our County. This budget expands the hours of operation for recreation centers in the mid- and east-county and will ensure that the Wheaton High School Wellness Center will open at the same time as the new Wheaton High School.

I’m pleased the Council decided to make a down-payment on fair elections by approving $1 million for the Public Campaign Election Fund. This landmark program will make Montgomery County a national model for public financing of elections. We are also making sure employees of County contractors are treated fairly by fully funding my recently passed legislation to strengthen the Living Wage Law’s reporting requirements.

The approved budget funds our priorities in a fiscally responsible way. We kept the property tax rate at the County’s Charter Limit, while fully funding our future pension, health care, and reserve obligations. We are restoring funding for libraries that was drastically cut during the recession and providing much-deserved compensation for our County employees, who made many sacrifices during the economic downturn. The tough decisions we have made will put Montgomery County in a favorable position to retain our Triple-A Bond Rating.”