Message from Marc Elrich, Montgomery County Executive

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Real Estate Agent with Realty Group Referrals 16766

Message from Marc Elrich, Montgomery County Executive

 

County Executive Marc Elrich

Dear Friends,

Even though at times, the pandemic seems all-consuming, we still have to think about what kind of future we want for Montgomery County. Your vote on the ballot questions in this upcoming general election is going to play an important part in determining the shape of our future. The first batch of mail-in ballots will begin arriving in as soon as ten days and there will be six ballot questions on your ballot this year – four county questions and two statewide questions. And as your County Executive, I will not hesitate to take a position on policies in the public interest.

The four countywide questions are lettered A, B, C and D. I am asking you to vote FOR A and C and AGAINST B and D.  I am also asking that you vote FOR statewide Questions 1 and 2. Today I want to focus on Questions A and B.

Questions A and B address property tax collection. Once again, I urge you to vote FOR Question A and AGAINST Question B, and here is why.

Our County’s property tax structure is fundamentally flawed. The current structure purposely manufactures austerity and creates a system that is broken and broke intentionally. It caps our total property tax revenue to the amount collected in the previous year plus inflation (which most recently was only 1.27 percent); it does not limit individual tax bills to the rate of inflation.  Every year this arcane system forces us to recalculate the property tax rate to fit within an overall number that is not tied to economic growth in the county. As a result, the county does not benefit from increased economic growth even as the county must pay the costs of that same growth.

Due to the economic disruptions caused by the COVID pandemic, if not fixed, this arcane system could bankrupt our county. Unlike residential properties, commercial property assessments are based on the income generated by the property, such as rent. As vacancies increase due to the pandemic, assessments may go down. When combined with an inflation rate that is likely to be zero or negative, Montgomery County could be collecting less revenue than last year – this would be crippling to our budget at a time our services are more important than ever before.

Our current charter simply redistributes who pays more or less.  This is why we don’t have a revenue base that would support more robust school construction or the bond financing needed to build the transit we must have if we’re going to provide the infrastructure that new development requires. Here’s another way to think about it - our problem is not stagnant property values, it is our inability, under the current system, to realize the new value of property.

If you want to understand why we lag behind the other side of the river, you need look no further than counties in Virginia and their ability to produce revenue to build major infrastructure projects that our county’s tax structure makes impossible. This is not about raising taxes. It is about is realizing the benefits of growth for the entire community.

To add another level to the perversity of our system, the use of tax credits to stimulate development activity when combined with new construction winds up reducing property tax revenues, which in turn reduces the base against which inflation is applied.  As a result, the County will never see the full tax benefit from major projects – like the new Marriott headquarters project - even after the tax credits expire. 

Our neighbors (and competitors) in the region are focused on the future for their communities – they are investing in infrastructure that businesses and residents want and need. Our charter prevents us from tackling a range of issues like the opportunity gap in our schools, the need for transportation infrastructure, the lack of affordable housing, and more. It leaves our residents and our business community with the false perception that we cannot manage our resources when, in fact, our potential resources are severely limited by the existing property tax system.

The charter amendment currently in place, which has created this revenue straitjacket, was proposed by the Council 30 years ago – 1990. Since then our school population has grown by 65 percent and overall population by 40 percent. In the last 30 years, we have increased our services and we have more challenges – from traffic congestion to climate change to greater economic disparity. Over the same time period, the tax rate has declined 35 percent.

Don’t be deceived! Our current County Charter limits the growth of property tax revenue – not property tax rates, and resident property taxes are NOT capped at inflation – they are tied to property assessments.

To explain this point, when we looked at actual property taxes bills for a few properties from 2018 and 2019, we found surprising differences in tax increases and decreases that were random. A home in Silver Spring assessed around $600,000 had their property taxes increase significantly; a home in Potomac valued at more than $2 million had a slight tax decrease, and property taxes for a commercial property in Rockville valued at around $370 million saw a tax decrease even though their assessment increased. 

I also want to make a point that both the status quo and Question A require a unanimous vote by the Council to raise the limit – for the revenue cap (status quo) or the tax rate cap (Question A).  Passing Question A will not raise taxes. Question A would – without raising the tax rate – allow us to capture some of the revenue we need to reinvest in our community to move us forward as an economic leader in the region.

Question A allows us to focus on the tax rate rather than the total revenues collected. And the rate cannot be raised unless all Councilmembers vote to raise it. It is simple, and it enables us to capture the economic growth in our county. Additionally, I would note that if Question A passes, our tax rate will still be lower than that of Howard, Prince George’s, Anne Arundel and Frederick counties.

property tax rates

Question B by contrast would take us in the wrong direction. It would keep the current revenue cap and not allow it to ever go above the rate of inflation – even with a unanimous vote by all members of the Council. Put simply, Question B deprives you of your democratic right to representation. Question B could bankrupt our county. In times of emergency or great need, we will not be able to raise revenue beyond the inflation rate. It threatens our AAA bond rating. If we are downgraded, borrowing will be more expensive and will mean we will be unable to provide needed services and amenities. Question B denies us our ability to meet the needs of our residents and businesses – no matter how much we grow the tax base. Question B makes a bad situation worse.

Please educate yourself on these ballot questions. I respectfully ask you to vote FOR Question A and AGAINST Question B.

 

 

Image may contain: plant, flower, outdoor and nature

Torch Ginger, Etlingera elatior, Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA USA

Canon PowerShot G11 Camera

Photograph by Roy Kelley

Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

 

Aso known as Red ginger lily, Wild ginger, this Torch ginger or Ginger flower (Etlingera elatior) is a showy pink flower that’s used in decorative arrangements. It’s flower buds are an important ingredient in the Nonya dish laksa. In North Sumatra, the flower buds are used for a dish called Arsik ikan mas (Andaliman / Szechuan pepper-spiced carp). It’s other names are Philippine wax flower, Xiang bao jiaing, Indonesian tall ginger, Boca de dragón, Rose de porcelaine, and Porcelain rose.
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Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

Roy Kelley and Associates

 

Roy Kelley, Associate Broker

Realty Group Referrals (Retired from RE/MAX Realty Group)

6 Montgomery Village Ave., Suite 200

Gaithersburg, MD 20879

Main Office:  301-258-7757 (You will not reach me at this number)

Send an email message if you need my phone numbers. I will be happy to recommend a real estate professional if you are moving to the area.

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Rainmaker
5,985,810
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Voting Update: Avoid Lines and Stay Safe by Voting by Mail

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Election day—Tuesday, Nov. 3—is less than two months away, and for those who have ordered mail-in ballots (it is not too late to do that), they will begin arriving in just a few weeks. 

In Montgomery County, there will be only about 40 polling places open throughout the County on Election Day (usually there are 255 voting locations).

 

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Sep 19, 2020 05:44 AM #1
Rainmaker
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Roy Kelley
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The year 2020 likely will be long remembered as the time America—and the rest of the world—was inflicted with a new virus: COVID-19. However, an old, recurring disease—the flu—is back again, sometimes with similar symptoms to COVID-19. Protect yourself, protect others – get a flu vaccine every year.

 

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Sep 19, 2020 05:45 AM #2
Rainmaker
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Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

County Now Accepting Requests for Second Phase of $20 Million COVID Rent Relief Program

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Montgomery County is now accepting applications for the second phase of its COVID Rent Relief Program to provide financial assistance to eligible residents. Administered by the County’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the program will accept applications on a rolling basis while funds remain available.

 

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Sep 19, 2020 05:45 AM #3
Rainmaker
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Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Montgomery County Recreation Extends Outdoor Pool Season through Sunday, Oct. 4

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In an effort to continue providing Montgomery County residents with as many fitness and recreation opportunities as possible, Montgomery County Recreation has extended its summer outdoor pool season. Weather permitting, certain outdoor pools will remain open on modified schedules through Sunday, Oct. 4.

 

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Sep 19, 2020 05:46 AM #4
Rainmaker
5,985,810
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

County Executive is Holding Series of Virtual FY22 Budget Forums; Next One on Monday, Sept. 21

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Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich is holding a series of virtual forums about priorities for the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) Operating Budget and the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) budget. The next forum will start at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 21, and will focus on the operating budget. Each of the forums will be hosted via Microsoft Teams.

 

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Sep 19, 2020 05:46 AM #5
Rainmaker
5,985,810
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Fourth Annual Wheaton Arts Parade & Festival Begins Sunday, Sept. 20

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The COVID-19 health crisis has led to many changes in activities planned for 2020, including to the Fourth Annual Wheaton Arts Parade & Festival. However, even with a new look for this year, the Wheaton Arts Parade will again bring art to the streets of Downtown Wheaton. It also will have a virtual festival of art.

The traditional one-day celebration will become a two-week event, starting Sunday, Sept. 20. This year’s event will have art installations placed around the downtown area so visitors can experience the works of local artists day or night. The arts presentations also can be viewed virtually. At noon on opening day, County Executive Marc Elrich and County Council President Sidney Katz will kick off the festival by unveiling an eight-foot pyramid in the first event on the new Marian Fryer Town Plaza. The plaza, on Reedie Drive, is adjacent to the recently opened 14-story County office building.

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Sep 19, 2020 05:47 AM #6
Rainmaker
5,985,810
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

property tax due

Sep 19, 2020 05:47 AM #7
Rainmaker
5,985,810
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

County Public Libraries Launch Enhanced Deaf Culture Digital Library Website

Deaf Culture Digital Library

The Deaf Culture Digital Library (Maryland DCDL), a program of the Maryland State Library Agency, has launched its newly enhanced website. The website provides a more comprehensive digital content related to American Sign Language, deaf culture, deaf history, deaf literature, news in American Sign Language and lists of organizations.

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Sep 19, 2020 05:48 AM #8
Rainmaker
5,985,810
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Many Partners Join City of Light Church to Distribute Food and Meals in Silver Spring

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More than 500 individuals and families on Sept. 13 were provided with fresh produce, nonperishable groceries, ethnic food products and milk as many organizations and volunteers joined the Kings and Priests’ Court International Ministries City of Light Church “Helping Hands Food Pantry” food distribution event. The church is located on Randolph Road in Silver Spring.

 

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Sep 19, 2020 05:48 AM #9
Rainmaker
3,737,950
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Roy - although we hear that each election is important and that's true for any number of reasons but it's also important to understand and be knowledgeable at what happens at the local and state level.  We can do a better job at being informed and then making our choice.  

Sep 19, 2020 05:56 AM #10
Rainmaker
3,045,979
Brian England
Vacasa - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

Hopefully, each question or proposition that will be voted on is clear, concise and does not have hidden agenda stuff within it.  I have seen too much hidden agenda stuff within questions or propositions that I have been asked to vote on.

Sep 19, 2020 06:49 AM #12
Rainmaker
4,449,165
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Roy, we definitely have to cast our vote, and the day is getting closer!  

Sep 19, 2020 07:10 AM #14
Rainmaker
5,011,779
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy

Roy,

Those various propositions are chock full of pork barrel in many instances, and one should read them carefully.  Cheers. A

Sep 19, 2020 10:35 AM #15
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