Spending Affordability Guidelines
Last week, the Council voted 5-4 to support my recommendation to set the Spending Affordability Guidelines for the 2013-2018 Capital Budget at $295 million. The County Executive and Council Staff also supported this number. We have a responsibility to taxpayers to spend within our means during these challenging economic times. This decision will demonstrate our commitment to reign in our spending and show bond rating agencies that we are serious about getting our fiscal house in order. It is essential that Montgomery County maintain its AAA bond rating. In February, the Council will have a clearer indication of our economic condition and more accurate revenue estimates. At that time, we will be able to increase this number by as much as $29.5 million if our fiscal situation improves.
Pedestrian and Public Safety on Castle Blvd.
For far too long, the Briggs Chaney
neighborhood has been a crime hot spot and Castle Blvd. has been a dangerous place for pedestrians to walk. Since I was elected in 2009, I made a commitment to improving the quality of life in this area. Two weeks ago, the County Department of Transportation finished installing traffic calming devices on Castle Blvd to slow down cars on this street. Parents should feel confident that their kids are safe from speeding cars when walking to and from school. This small step should give that peace of mind to parents.
I have also closely monitored the police enhancement for the 3rd Police District (Silver Spring/East County). So far, six new officers are on patrol in the area, with eight more promised in the spring. I was disappointed in the delay, but appreciate Chief Manger's commitment to deploying more forces to keep our streets safe.
IMPACT in East County
During last year's budget deliberations, I asked my colleagues in the Council to support a community grant for the non-profit organization IMPACT to conduct a needs assessment and create a blueprint for the development of a network of non-profit, public, private, and community partnerships in the East County. I spoke to at the first meeting on September 26th and I was very impressed by the enthusiasm of the group to start this project. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 25th from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Eastern Montgomery County Regional Services Center.
Beyond the Curfew Debate: Youth Programming There has been a lot of debate over the County Executive's proposed youth curfew. While I am not opposed to considering the merits of the policy, I believe we need to address the underlying reasons we are having this discussion in the first place. Young people, particularly in District 4, need safe places to go with adult-supervised programming. The highly successful Youth Cafe in the East County Community Center is one example of programming that works. We need to expand this model throughout the County.
That's why I'm introducing a resolution next week that reaffirms the Council's commitment to positive youth development (PYD) programs. During last year's budget, the Council made cuts to many of these programs. The resolution calls on the Council to support, fund and pursue public-private partnerships to finance PYD programs. I believe in a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to meet the County's youth needs, reduce crime and violence involving minors, and promote community safety.
Walmart to Aspen Hill? Many of you have likely heard about the proposed Walmart in Aspen Hill. I am a strong believer that development projects reflect our priorities and our vision as a community. I support a sustainable, vibrant retail environment in Aspen Hill, where both large and small businesses can thrive. We should not just ask ourselves what is possible today, but instead we should imagine what we envision for our community 10 or 20 years from now. I don't believe Walmart fits into our community's vision for the Aspen Hill of the future. You can read my letter to the Lee Development Group to better understand my position on this issue. I am also interested in your views on this topic. Please email me to let me know your thoughts.