Rockville City Council Agenda: Charter Review Panel Report, Public Hearings and Ethics Ordinance Discussion
A vote on changes to the city bid process also is on deck.
The final report by the city’s Charter Review Commission, three public hearings and discussions of proposed changes to the city’s ethics ordinance and the city’s bid process are on the Rockville City Council’s agenda for Monday.
The council also is scheduled to hear an update from the Rockville Chamber of Commerce.
Charter Review Commission report
The council is scheduled to hear the final report from the city’s Charter Review Commission.
The commission’s recommendations, outlined in the report, include:
- Expanding terms for the mayor and City Council from two years to four.
- Move city elections from odd-numbered years to every four years to coincide with presidential elections.
- Increase the number of City Council members from four to six.
The commission also recommended several changes to increase voter participation in city elections. Some changes would be automatic should the city act on the recommendation to move to even-year voting. Others, the commission said, should be considered regardless.
Among the changes to be considered:
- Allowing early voting in city elections as early as 10 days before Election Day.
- Establishing one polling place in each voting precinct where residents could cast ballots in city elections.
- Weekend voting and voting by mail. The commission said weekend voting and mail-in ballots would be too expense to implement at this time, but that it should be considered for the future.
- Online voting and voter registration. The technology behind online voting and voter registration “is unproven at this time,” the commission wrote in the report. “The Commission recommends the Mayor and Council consider this in the future.”
The commission held town hall meetings across Rockville in October, gathering input from city residents, including former City Council members, former city clerks, former candidates for elected office and city activists.
The council will hold public hearings on the proposed reconstruction of the Stonestreet pedestrian bridge, Town Center zoning and the creation of a Financial Advisory Board.
Ethics ordinance discussion
The council is scheduled to continue a discussion on proposed changes to the city’s ethics ordinance.
The proposed changes are designed to bring the city in compliance with state law. They include establishing a city ethics commission, adding more specificity to conflict of interests provisions and more extensive financial disclosure requirements for city officeholders.
If the council accepts the latest draft ordinance, it would be forwarded to the State Ethics Commission for review and approval before final adoption by the council.
Gaithersburg ethics request
Meanwhile, the City of Gaithersburg has sent a letter to Rockville asking for support of legislation proposing changes to the state ethics law. The council is scheduled to discuss whether to support legislation that would allow local governments and school boards “to limit the disclosure of an interest in a corporation, partnership, limited liability partnership, or limited liability company to include only those entities that do business with or are regulated by the county, municipal corporation, or school system.”
Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Dist. 20) of Takoma Park introduced the legislation last year and plans to use the bill, which died in committee in 2012, as a starting point for this year’s legislation, according to the letter from Rockville.
Gaithersburg’s city attorney has told Rockville staff that municipal governments in Westminster, St. Michaels, Mount Airy and Thurmont are joining Gaithersburg in supporting the measure, according to a Rockville staff report. Gaithersburg was still waiting to hear back from Annapolis, Takoma Park, Frederick, Poolesville and Rockville on whether those governments would support the legislation.
City bid process
The council is scheduled to vote on changes to city purchasing laws to add definitions of “Local Business” and “Tie Bids” and to award city contracts to local firms in the case of tie bids.
The consent agenda includes votes:
- To allow the city to enter into contract riders with the state’s Department of Information Technology of up to $500,000 per fiscal year through June 2028. Use of state contracts would likely save the city time, money and risk on the purchase of software, hardware, telecommunication equipment and services and other items. Funding would be subject to approval by the City Council each year.
- A change to the city’s Incorporation of Works of Art in Public Architecture Ordinance. The change, recommended by the city’s Cultural Arts Commission and staff, would allow the city to set aside unused funds allocated to one art project and allow them to accumulate for a future project.
Heritage area plan
The council is scheduled to discuss a proposal to amend the city’s master plan and Rockville’s portion of the Montgomery County Heritage Area Management Plan.
The county heritage plan helps preserve and promote historical, cultural and natural resources for heritage tourism.
The council is scheduled to vote on the proposal on Jan. 28.
The Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, which is considering whether to add Rockville to the Montgomery County Heritage Area, is tentatively scheduled to hold a hearing in Rockville on Feb. 7.