Friday, May 26, 2017

MoCo Council passes tax hike budget, bloated with payoffs to donors and allies - and themselves

The Montgomery County Council yesterday unanimously passed another budget that will raise your tax bill for FY-2018, in order to cover their highest-in-the-region salaries, and taxpayer-funded giveaways to political allies in the non-profit and contracting fields. Buried in the Council press release is a legally-required admission that your tax bill will increase, not decrease. That's because, while the Council can technically claim they "held the line on taxes," the corrupt tax system they've put in place automatically hikes taxes based on increased real estate assessments.

Allies of the Council in the local media went even further than the Council's own press release Thursday, falsely declaring that taxes had decreased - even as the release stated otherwise. Fake news. In fact, the Council posted a required ad in local newspapers several weeks ago announcing a budget with an increase in taxes. This follows last year's all-time-high property tax increase of 9% (which many County homeowners found actually translated into tax hikes of 10% or more, based on - yep - those automatic tax hikes that happen whether the Council increases the rate or not), and a major hike in the recordation tax.

So "holding the line" in this case means we're still at the highest level of taxation in Montgomery County history. The Council didn't have to move a muscle to get all that, and a little bit more, from your wallet for this budget.

As I reported a few weeks back, the budget massively overpays for procurement purchases, and funnels money to key donors and political allies in often-duplicative non-profit social services. Some who receive salaries from those non-profits turn portions of their tax hikes into campaign donations for the very councilmembers who voted to approve the funding for their organizations. Funding for a new microlending "Bank of the County Council" can also be "paid forward" by recipients to the campaigns of councilmembers. Those involved in determining who receives the microloans are either directly appointed by the Council, or are within their direct orbits of political influence.

Whether you pay taxes in Montgomery County can also depend on who you are. As I reported this week, developer Regency Centers was found to be in arrears to the County, having not paid their tax bills on two Westbard properties. Yet their development proposals are being pushed through the approval process, at taxpayer expense. As you know, ordinary citizens like you and me can be denied various government benefits and services if we are delinquent on our taxes.

There's a lot in this budget for the beleaguered County taxpayer to review, and perhaps even more for the FBI to examine. Such an examination could turn the Council's unwarranted budget victory lap into a perp walk outside of 100 Maryland Avenue.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Shuttered Rockville pizzeria's equipment being auctioned off

Know an aspiring chef who needs a revolving pizza oven? Point him or her in the direction of the Pie 360 auction. The pizzeria in the Galvan at Twinbrook recently ended one of the shortest runs in Rockville restaurant history. Now their natural gas pizza oven can be yours, as can 3 soft-serve ice cream machines.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Mayor and Council to hold walking town meeting at Americana Centre Thursday

A walking town meeting will be held by the Mayor and Council at the Americana Centre tomorrow, Thursday, May 25, at 6:30 PM. Meet in front of the Hamilton House at 4 Monroe Street at 6:30. In case of rain, the meeting will move inside the Hamilton House multipurpose room.

Residents of Americana Centre have already put forward the following items for the agenda, but attendees will be able to expand beyond these: Future development plans in the area, and pedestrian safety on Monroe Place and the intersection of Monroe Place and Monroe Street.

If weather conditions allow, here is the route the tour will take:
Click map to enlarge

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Rockville outdoor smoking ban passed by Mayor and Council

Rockville's Mayor and Council passed a new ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas last night in a 4-1 vote. The vote came after an emotional appeal by the leading advocate for the ban, resident Adam Zimmerman, during the Community Forum portion of the meeting.

Councilmember Mark Pierzchala cast the lone dissenting vote, saying he fears an outcome such as residents living adjacent to Montgomery College experienced, when that campus went smoke-free. Smokers who couldn't light up on college property migrated into the residential community behind the college to puff away instead.

Pierzchala predicted smokers banished from Rockville Town Square dining spaces will likely move in front of other businesses and properties downtown, calling these "unintended consequences" of the ban.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Mr. Smoothie for sale at Rockville Town Square

Mr. Smoothie is for sale at Rockville Town Square. The smoothie and frozen yogurt cafe has been in business since 1996, and remains open at this time. Sale price is listed at only $59,999.

Friday, May 19, 2017

F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre to close temporarily this summer for repairs

The F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre in Rockville will close temporarily for repairs late this summer, from July 24-September 6, 2017. Roof beams will be reinforced, and a new motorized light bar will be installed, during the closure.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Mayor and Council could pass outdoor dining smoking ban Monday

Smoking in outdoor dining areas could be banned in the City of Rockville as soon as Monday night. The Mayor and Council are scheduled to discuss the ordinance, but could waive a layover and cast their final vote, as well.

Of the public feedback on the proposal received by the city, 22 of 24 written comments supported the ban. However, one of the two negative submissions is a petition opposing the ban, signed by 189 people who oppose it. City staff has been unable to confirm how many of the 189 are Rockville residents, but then again, not everyone dining in Rockville is necessarily a Rockville resident.

Residents, businesses and patrons of Rockville establishments will have the opportunity to address the Mayor and Council on this issue during Community Forum, which is earlier in the meeting. The meeting begins at 7:00 PM this Monday, May 22, 2017, following an executive session that is closed to the public.