November 19, 2020

Message from the County Executive Marc Elirch

Dear Friends,

Montgomery County hit an unhappy milestone today of having the highest number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 (seven-day average) since the pandemic began in March.  As you can see from the charts below, the trend line is not headed in a good direction either in the County or across Maryland.

7 Day average number of new confirmed cases per 100k residents

7 Day moving average case rate per 100k by jurisdiction

We have to reduce contacts and follow guidelines. That is why additional restrictions have been imposed by Governor Hogan this week and by me last week.

Even amidst this worsening pandemic, other County business continues. Last week, I testified (virtually of course) before the Montgomery County State delegation at the annual public hearing where the County presents it priorities for the 2021 State legislative session, which will convene in January. Together with County Council President Sidney Katz, we explained the County’s joint top priorities for the 2021 Maryland legislative session that begins in January. Those priorities cover a number of topics, and of course, recovery from this pandemic was first. In my brief remarks (limited to five minutes), I emphasized the need for State support for essential transit, including the County’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, the Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT) and the Purple Line. I also urged our State representatives to support efforts to address climate change, most importantly the Community Choice Energy Act. And we fervently hope that the legislature will override Governor Hogan’s veto of the “Blueprint for Maryland’s Future,” which is critically important to education in the coming years.

As you may have heard, the County Council approved a new Subdivision Staging Policy, which has been renamed the “Growth and Infrastructure Policy.” As the new title explains, this policy is supposed to identify the process and funding to make sure that adequate infrastructure—especially schools and transportation—are in place when new development occurs. I am disappointed that the Council did not address the questions I raised in a letter to the Councilmembers. Councilmember Will Jawando expressed concern about the significant decrease in revenues that will result from this new policy. I share those concerns. The Office of Management and Budget estimates that the changes will reduce revenues by somewhere between $12.5 million and $20 million a year. The Council has stated that it will consider an increase in the recordation tax to meet the need, but that discussion is not currently scheduled. One of the problems with increasing the recordation tax is that it shifts the costs from the developers of the infrastructure projects to residents. The need for this infrastructure will not disappear, although the revenue from new development will be greatly reduced. Either the funds will have to come from somewhere else or we will have to forgo important infrastructure improvements. That has me worried.

Next week is Thanksgiving and we are imploring you not to gather in the traditional large groups this year. If we all maintain our distance and connect via Zoom or other virtual platforms, then, hopefully, next year we will be able to celebrate with family and friends in person.

Please see our guidance regarding Thanksgiving:

I am thankful for the many wonderful residents, businesses and organizations that are here in Montgomery County. Please stay safe, maintain physical distance and #MaskUpMoCo.

Marc Elrich
County Executive