Friday, April 28, 2006

In Local Finance News, My County Is Broke!

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , , ,

…Well, it’s not that bad, though as little as I pay attention to news in my own area, it very well could happen and I’d be the last person to hear about it. A few money topics have made recent headlines in Montgomery County, MD, so I thought I’d share with all of you what’s going on in my neck of the woods.

Big Patch of Land Soon to be Big Patch of Anything But

Not even 500 feet from where I work, there is a 182-acre piece of farmland that the county has been trying to annex for a while. It’s one of only a few remaining undeveloped pieces of land in the whole county, but it looks like that’ll be changing soon thanks to a recent vote by the County Council. Plans call for over 2,000 new homes and more than 300,000 square feet of commercial building space to be built on the land. The Council said that 12.5% of the housing must be “low income,” though low-income housing in Montgomery County likely means houses under half a million dollars.

County Adds Diesel-Electric Buses; Buses Powered By Witty Commentary Next

If only that last statement were true, this site alone could run the whole state’s mass transit system! But with the addition of diesel-electic hybrid buses to a fleet that already includes a bunch running on natural gas, Montgomery County is slowly building a more environmentally friendly and fuel efficient public transportation system. Even with only 440 of these GM-built hybrid buses in service so far, the expected fuel savings over conventional buses is 650,000 gallons a year.

Property Tax Cut In Jeopardy

Last month, Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan revealed a budget that provided for a 9.5% property tax cut without affecting funding of county services. This month, the County Council is questioning whether the property tax cut is a smart move in light of a projected budget shortfall in the next six years. The Council says it would rather see a one-time tax credit in place of a permanent cut.

Hey, council members, here’s a free tip for ya: If a good deal of your constituents are living in homes assessing at over $400,000 in a county with a hefty property tax rate, do not question a property tax cut because it’s all that voters will remember at election time.

Speeders Saying Cheese For New Traffic Cameras

We already have tons of red light cameras scattered throughout the county. Now police have the green light to set up radar cameras in school zones and residential areas with speed limits under 35. Drivers caught on these cameras breaking the speed limit by more than 10 miles per hour will receive a citation in the mail. With a low maximum fine of $40 and no points for radar camera violations, it’s not likely that many people will spend the time contesting such tickets. Of course, it also means you could be clocked going 100 in a 25 by one of these devices and all you’ll get it a slap on the wrist–or rather, a pinch in the pocket book.

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