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Rockville City Council Agenda: The Budget, Legislative Priorities and a Heritage Area Plan Hearing

A discussion of the Financial Advisory Board is also on the agenda.

 

Previews of the fiscal 2014 city budget and of state legislative priorities for the District 17 delegation to the General Assembly and a public hearing on a plan for heritage tourism highlight the Rockville City Council’s agenda for Monday.

The council meets at 7 p.m. at City Hall. The meeting will be broadcast live on Rockville 11.

Budget preview

The council is scheduled to hear a preview of the budget for fiscal 2014, which begins July 1.

The preview will focus on council members’ answers to budget surveys, which city staff use to determine budget priorities. Staff will discuss operating funds and factors that may influence revenue and expenditure estimates.

“Financial pressures such as employee benefit costs and aging infrastructure, combined with decreases in property tax revenue and limited revenues from other governments, weigh heavily on the projected FY 2014 bottom line,” staff said in a report.

Staff is expected to release projections in February on the current round of city property assessments. The assessments will be “a major factor” in determining the budget outlook, according to a city news release.

City staff told the council that Rockville faces an estimated $2.6 million gap between expenditures and general fund revenues if the property tax rate is not increased in fiscal 2014, The Gazette reported. Without a tax rate hike, cuts to city services and programs would be needed to close the gap.

A second budget preview is scheduled for Feb. 11.

The city’s approved general fund budget for fiscal 2013 is $65.3 million. 

Click here for more on the city budget and here for more information on Monday’s preview.

District 17 state legislative preview

The council is scheduled to hear a preview of the 2013 legislative session and to discuss the city’s state legislative priorities with the District 17 delegation, which represents Rockville in the Maryland General Assembly.

Lawmakers are expected to face the task of bridging a $417 million structural budget gap when they return to Annapolis next month, city staff said in a report. The effect of the so-called fiscal cliff on federal aid to Maryland could significantly impact the state’s bottom line, however.

In June, the City Council approved a list of priorities for the 2013 General Assembly. They are:

  1. The restoration of highway user revenues. Municipalities use the state aid for road maintenance and small improvement projects. The revenues stood at $39.6 million statewide in fiscal 2009. Under the fiscal 2013 state budget, revenues will be $7.2 million statewide, with Rockville expecting $509,693 towards its fiscal 2014 budget. Fully funded, “municipalities would receive approximately $45 million, with Rockville receiving more than $3.3 million,” according to city staff.
  2. Protection of the city’s stormwater management fee and program from legislation to expand an exemption for governments from paying stormwater fees on public property. The city has adopted a policy that all governments pay their fair share of stormwater management costs.
  3. Uniform late, administrative and flagging fees on red light and speed camera violations. In March, the Chief Judge of the Maryland District Court issued an order barring local jurisdictions from charging such fees “because the varied amounts violated a uniformity requirement in the Maryland Constitution,” city staff wrote.
  4. Legislation to allow civilian staff of the Rockville City Police Department to sign-off on speed camera violations. The city also advocated for such legislation in 2011 and 2012.

The council also could decide to pursue a $340,000 state bond bill to help fund a $1.2 million modernization of the city’s Gude Drive maintenance facility.

Heritage area hearing

The council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on a proposed amendment to Rockville’s portion of the Montgomery County Heritage Area Management Plan.

The council heard a presentation Nov. 19 on the plan, which helps preserve and promote historical, cultural and natural resources for heritage tourism.

Click here to read the proposed amendment to Rockville’s portion of the state heritage plan.

Adoption of the amendment could make the city eligible for state and county heritage area grants.

Among the “targeted investment projects” listed in the plan that could be eligible for grants are improvements at the Rockville Civic Center, the Beall-Dawson House and Rockville Cemetery.

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.

The council will accept written comments on the plan until 5 p.m. Dec. 21. Written comments should be addressed to the Rockville Mayor and Council, 111 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850 or by email at mayorcouncil@rockvillemd.gov.

Financial Advisory Board creation

The council is scheduled to discuss the structure and duties of a Financial Advisory Board that is intended to increase citizen input on the city’s budget and finances. The council approved creation of the board in a 3-2 vote on Dec. 3. Councilmen Tom Moore and Mark Pierzchala voted in opposition, citing the need for further discussion before approving the board.

Odds and ends

Monday’s consent agenda includes a vote to approve a contract for up to five years and up to $2.5 million with Ferguson Enterprises, Inc. of Newport News, VA and HD Supply Waterworks, Ltd. of Thomasville, GA “for routine supplies, replenishment of warehouse stock and emergency infrastructure needs” for the city's water, sewer and street systems.

The council also is scheduled to recognize winners of the National Community Planning Month photo contest.

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