Mayor and Council

   For the meeting on:

  December 10, 2012
   Department:   City Manager
   Responsible staff:  Linda Moran, Assistant to the City Manager
  phone: (240) 314 - 8115

2013 State Legislative Session Preview with District 17

Receive presentation from the District 17 Delegation that previews the 2013 State Legislative Session and discuss Rockville's 2013 Legislative Priorities.

Senator Jennie Forehand, Delegate Kumar Barve, Delegate Jim Gilchrist, and Delegate Luiz Simmons will preview the upcoming legislative session (January 9, 2013 through April 8, 2013) and discuss how they can collaborate with the City to advance its legislative agenda in Annapolis. The Delegation and staff will be available to answer any questions from the Mayor and Council.

In addition to this briefing, staff is working to set up the annual (individual) meetings between the members of the Mayor and Council, each member of District 17, staff, and the City's State lobbyist at Holland and Knight to occur prior to the start of the General Assembly Session. The purpose of the individual meetings is to engage our State representatives in an ongoing dialogue on Rockville's legislative priorities, to learn what they view as the most important issues for the upcoming session, and to discuss strategies for moving the City's 2013 legislative agenda forward.

FY 2014 State Budget Outlook

The condition of the State’s budget sets the context for much of what will happen during the General Assembly Session. The City’s State lobbyist at Holland and Knight is monitoring the fiscal outlook for the State’s FY14 budget and has provided the following information.

To date, the State budget outlook appears to be improving. The FY14 State budget is forecast to be $27 million out of balance and the structural budget deficit (difference between revenues and expenditures) has been reduced to $417 million. The State Department of Legislative Services (DLS) has revised earlier forecasts to reflect the inclusion of: (1) additional gambling revenues that will accrue to the State because of voters' approval of the casino referendum in the November General Election and (2) assumed bond sale premiums that will alleviate the need for General Fund revenues to finance the State's debt service. However, these are forecasts, and it is unclear as to what the Governor will propose in the FY14 Budget and how the federal "fiscal cliff" will ultimately be resolved.

The financial condition of the State’s Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) continues to deteriorate with no funding for State Highway Administration's major projects or planning of significant projects by FY18. Additionally, there is no funding for construction of the three major transit lines, Red and Purple Lines and Corridor Cities Transitway, which will have to be addressed. The State must present a transit financing plan to the Federal Transit Administration in fall 2013 to be in competition for federal funding of the Red and Purple Lines.

DLS is recommending that the anticipated $150 million annual increase in capital bond financing be dedicated to transportation funding for FY14 and FY15 to help improve the condition of the TTF. Local bond bill monies are presumed to be included in the Capital Budget.

Should there be any noteworthy developments in the State’s fiscal condition prior to the start of the Session, staff will inform the Mayor and Council.

Rockville's 2013 Legislative Priorities as approved by the Mayor and Council on June 18, 2012 are as follows:

1. Restoration of Municipal Highway User Revenues

The restoration of this critical funding source is once again an MML priority for the 2013 Session, and Rockville and other municipalities will be working closely with them in support of this effort.

The General Assembly in the 2012 Session approved a municipal HUR level of $6.5 million, as recommended by the Governor in his proposed FY13 budget. MML and its member municipalities advocated for the restoration of these revenues as its top priority. Since the Governor’s gas tax proposal failed, there was no additional HUR restoration. The FY 13 HUR level was a $3.4 million reduction from the one-time funding restoration in the 2011 Session of $9.9 million (of which Rockville received $788,312). In FY13, the City will receive an HUR payment in the amount of $469,124.

The FY13 adopted State budget sets the FY14 municipal HUR level at $7.2 million. According to the latest estimates from the Maryland State Highway Administration, Rockville’s FY14 HUR payment will be $509,693. With fully funded HUR revenues, municipalities would receive approximately $45 million, with Rockville receiving more than $3.3 million.

As a consequence of drastic State cuts to HUR, along with other declining revenues, Rockville’s transportation budget contains several projects that are underfunded by a total of $4.6 million between FY13-FY17. This includes projects that support asphalt and concrete maintenance and repair.

MML has begun its advocacy on this issue and held meetings in November 2012 with key Administration decision makers in an attempt to have restored HUR funds included in the Governor’s recommended FY14 budget. In their meeting with the Secretary of Budget and Management, Eloise Foster, she noted the State needs to address the structural budget deficit which will hinder its ability to reinstate HUR funding. In the meeting with the Governor, he informed the League that, without a new transportation funding source, the State will not be able to reinstate HUR funding.

2. Protecting Rockville’s Stormwater Fee and Program

To build on efforts in the 2010 - 2012 legislative Sessions, the City will continue to advocate for this priority in 2013.

Rockville has a comprehensive stormwater program that assesses an equitable utility charge (FY13 $78.90 per Equivalent Residential Unit) on every property owner that generates stormwater. Payment of the stormwater utility charge is essential for the City to meet its mandated EPA “pollution diet” requirements for the clean-up of the Chesapeake Bay.

Public property owners are responsible for 15% of the impervious surface across the entire City. HB 987 Stormwater Management – Watershed Protection and Restoration Program, enacted in 2012, requires Phase I jurisdictions, which are the nine largest counties and the City of Baltimore with stormwater permits, to enact a local stormwater fee; it exempts state, county, municipal governments, and volunteer fire departments from paying it.

The public property exemption, while not applicable to Rockville and 53 other Phase II permit holders, is contrary to the City’s advocacy that all property owners should pay their fair share. The City is opposed to any effort to extend the public property exemption to Phase II jurisdictions such as Rockville. In the 2013 Session, Rockville will monitor all stormwater legislation that is introduced and will work to protect the City’s program and fee from any proposals that are disadvantageous.

3. Legislation to Set Uniform, Late, Administrative, and Flagging Fees on Red Light and Speed Camera violations

In March 2012, the Chief Judge of the Maryland District Court issued an order that prohibited local jurisdictions from charging late, administrative, and flagging fees because the varied amounts violated a uniformity requirement in the Maryland Constitution. Rockville, Montgomery County, and other local jurisdictions have come into compliance through the removal of language pertaining to these fees on the citation notices and have ceased charging the fees. Rockville’s Police and Finance Departments estimate approximately $284,000 in lost red light and speed camera late fees. The greatest impact is in the City’s capital improvements program, with the loss of speed camera funds dedicated to sidewalk construction, pedestrian safety, citywide traffic controls, and bridge rehabilitation.

Since this issue impacts many localities in Maryland, jurisdictions would be well served to have MML and the Maryland Association of Counties (MACO) lead the advocacy effort. In recent months, MML and MACO attempted to meet with the Chief Judge in an effort to explore an administrative resolution. Unfortunately, their request was not granted.

MML and MACO will attempt to have the necessary statutory changes made in other related legislation that may be introduced in the upcoming Session, if they believe the amendments would work in concert with proposals that may arise. MML and MACO believe this approach is more favorable than a measure that is solely focused on the late fee issue, which they believe could result in weakened municipal and county authority over red light and speed camera programs. The trade associations note there are strong public opinions on both sides of the issues surrounding traffic monitoring devices.

Rockville supports legislation or any other option that best protects municipal interests and brings this matter to a resolution. The City will work in concert with MML, MACO, Gaithersburg and other localities on this effort.

4. Legislation to Allow Non-Sworn Officer Staff to Sign-Off on Speed Camera Violations

The City supported this legislation in the 2011 and 2012 Sessions. Rockville will continue to advocate for legislation in the 2013 Session that would allow non-sworn officers to sign off on speed camera violation notices. The legislation would permit an authorized individual trained in speed monitoring enforcement to sign off on the speed camera photo that recorded the violations. If successful, this legislation would allow sworn police officers who are currently approving speed camera violations to be deployed to other, more critical law enforcement assignments in the community aimed at protecting public safety and allowing for a much more efficient and effective use of their time.

The sworn officer sign off requirement is a financial burden on police departments because the salary and benefits of officers are typically much higher than civilian staff. Presently, the average salary of civilian photo technicians is $38,000. The average salary of officers currently approving citations is $87,000.

State law currently allows “a technician employed by the agency” to handle the sign off on red light camera violation notices. This approach has been efficient and effective since Rockville’s program was instituted in November 2002. For these important reasons, Rockville will be partnering with the cities of Gaithersburg, Laurel, and Greenbelt to advocate for this legislation in 2013.

Local Bond Bill - Modernization of Rockville's Infrastructure, Maintenance, and Emergency Management Facility

The City is in the initial stages of prioritizing capital improvement projects for FY14. The City may want to pursue bond bill funding in the 2013 Session for Phase III of the CIP project to Modernize Rockville's Infrastructure, Maintenance, and Emergency Management Facility (Gude Drive facility). This facility houses the operations and equipment for the Public Works Department and the Parks and Facilities Division in the Recreation and Parks Department.

In recent years, there has been an emergence of weather events that are severe in nature such as “snowmaggedon,” the Derecho, and Hurricane Sandy. These events appear to be occurring with greater frequency. In this context, it has become extremely important for the City to respond quickly with essential core services to protect the health and safety of Rockville residents, including tree removal and maintenance, storm drain maintenance and repairs, snow removal, and temporary asphalt and concrete repairs. Since those functions operate out of the Infrastructure, Maintenance, and Emergency Management Facility (Gude Drive facility), the CIP project to upgrade that facility is a good candidate for State bond bill funding. Additional core city services operating out of the facility include refuse and recycling, water and sewer system maintenance and City vehicle maintenance. The entire facility is equipped with back up power via a 400 kilowatt generator which enables emergency operations to be carried out during City-wide power outages.

Phase I and II
The Gude Drive Facility (GDF) Improvement project contains several phases, each of which are designed for the modernization of the City's infrastructure, maintenance and emergency management facility. Phase I of the project has been completed and entailed the construction of a salt barn, stormwater management upgrades, access improvements, and parking and debris storage. Phase II is underway and entails the construction of a new fleet services building, relocation of the fuel island, additional parking, and modification to the existing fleet services building to include heated storage, HVAC/carpentry shops, expanded stockroom. This phase is expected to be completed in August 2013.

Phase III
Additional funding is needed in order for Phase III of modernizing Rockville’s Infrastructure, Maintenance, and Emergency Management Facility to proceed. It is recommended that the City consider the “Modernization of Rockville’s Infrastructure, Maintenance, and Emergency Management Facility” as a critically needed project for a bond bill (in the 2013 Session).

Phase III funds renovations to the 5,100 square foot on-site administrative building. The building will house the operations dispatch office, a training room, and office space for managers and supervisors from Public Works and Recreation and Parks Departments. The training room will serve as the emergency command center during major City-wide weather/emergency events. The dispatch house is the only means of communication for all City-wide maintenance operations. The facility also houses the locker room, restroom, and break room space for the laborers responding to emergency events and providing the core services throughout the community.

The cost for project design is $122,965, and the construction cost is estimated at $1,213,131. There is just under $1 million in the FY13 Adopted CIP for this project. It is recommended that a bond bill be pursued in the amount of $340,000. It is anticipated that, if the project were to receive adequate funding in FY14, it would be implemented in FY15.

Mayor and Council History
On June 18, 2012 District 17 made a presentation on the outcomes of the 2012 legislative Session to the Mayor and Council.

Next Steps

There are additional opportunities for the Mayor and Council to interact with District 17 prior to the start of the 2013 Session. They will engage District 17 and the Montgomery County Delegation in further discussion at the MML Montgomery Chapter annual Legislative Dinner on December 13, 2012 at 6:30 pm at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Bethesda. Additionally, the individual meetings with District 17 members over the next month will provide further opportunity for continued discussion between the City and District 17 on advocating for Rockville’s priorities in Annapolis. The City and District 17 will collaborate in support of the City’s priorities throughout the 2013 legislative Session (January 9 through April 8, 2013).

Department Head:

Jenny Kimball, Assistant City Manager
Approved on: 12/05/2012

Assistant City Manager:

Jenny Kimball, Assistant City Manager
Approved on: 12/05/2012

City Manager:

Approved on: 12/05/2012