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Council Agenda: Budget, Legal Fees and Conservation Districts

A hearing on building codes is also on deck.

A budget discussion, an increase in legal fees, a public hearing on green building codes and a discussion of conservation districts are on the Rockville City Council’s agenda for Monday.

The council at . The meeting will be broadcast live on Rockville 11.

The budget

The council is scheduled to discuss the city budget.

 is $107 million. The proposed capital budget is $75.1 million. The plan for fiscal 2013, which begins July 1, maintains the real property tax rate of 29.2 cents per $100 of assessed value for all properties and the personal property tax rate of 80.5 cents per $100 of assessed value for commercial properties.

Last week, the council decided to delay the discussion so that members could consider updated budget numbers that reflect a net increase of $352,190 available for the council to allocate in the operating budget.

The increase reflects greater-than-expected tax duplication revenues from the county and savings on city contracts for auditing, Internet services and natural gas.

City staff is providing a “budget balancing tool” that will ask the council whether it wishes to include funding for the following: 

  • A barrier in West End Park to block noise from Interstate 270. (Cost: $111,000 in fiscal 2013 and $773,350 in future years.)
  • Improvements to . (Cost: $160,000.)
  • A bathroom at  (Cost: $10,000 to complement state aid).
  • A green building tax credit program. (Cost: $60,000.)
  • The Rockville Chamber of Commerce’s  program. (Cost: $20,000.)

May 7 budget hearing included testimony from nonprofits seeking increases in city funding and from residents of the West End asking the city to fund the sound barrier, The Gazette reported.

The delayed budget discussion also gave the council time to consider . 

The public record will remain open for written comments until 5 p.m. on Thursday. Click here for information on how to submit comments.

The council is scheduled to take a final vote on the budget on May 21.

Venable contract increase

Monday’s consent agenda includes a staff recommendation to approve a $500,000 increase to the contract for Venable, LLP. The additional legal fees are for Venable’s work on litigation related to the Rockville Town Center parking garages. The council originally approved a $500,000 contract on Sept. 19 and approved an additional $500,000 on Jan. 30.

Hearing on building codes

The council will hold a public hearing on an ordinance to revise city building codes and make them consistent with national codes. Many of the codes are designed to require greater energy efficiency.

The public record will remain open for written testimony until May 18. The council is scheduled to discuss the ordinance on June 4 and vote on it June 18. The ordinance would take effect July 1.

Conservation districts

City staff will present a report on Rockville’s Conservation District zoning. Conservation districts “implement a revitalization program or aid in conserving the distinctive character of a neighborhood,” according to the staff report.

In March, the council raised the idea of creating such a district in the historic West End.

The city’s lone conservation district is in Lincoln Park. It outlines certain elements that give the neighborhood its character including the sidewalks, yards, walkways and fences that define the public streetscape and private residences.

A conservation district for West End could be created by the council amending the 1989 West End-Woodley Gardens East/West Neighborhood Plan or by a neighborhood initiative. Such an initiative would have to be agreed to by 40 percent of the affected property owners and recommended to the council by the city’s Planning Commission. The council would consider the district as part of the master plan process. Eight-five percent of the affected property owners would have to give written approval of the district in order for it to be created.

“Once created, all development activities within the district will be subject to the standards and requirements set forth in the code,” the staff report said. The city’s Board of Appeals would consider any variances from the code.

Proclamations and awards

The council is scheduled to issue a proclamation declaring May as Historic Preservation Month in Rockville and to honor the city’s Environmental Photo Contest winners and the winners of the city’s Environmental Excellence Awards

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