At its Monday, March 21, 2022 meeting, the Rockville Mayor and Council will hold a public hearing on the FY2023 Budget and discussion employer-assisted housing; a proposed Bank on Rockville program; and use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. A surprise for the upcoming budget discussion is a half-dozen requests at the last public hearing to increase city staff to support specific services. While there was one request for staff devoted to public safety (i.e., police), it was matched by requests for the arts, human services, bike and pedestrian safety, and environmental sustainability—significantly different results from the community survey, which had police and crime prevention as a top priority. These diverse opinions suggest the challenges that City Council members face when making decisions for the community. My advice: think long-term and focus on your purpose and vision.
The City of Rockville is exploring ways to support its employees who wish to buy a house, given the difficulty of finding affordable housing in and around Rockville. According to Zillow, the “typical home value of homes in Rockville is $585,615.” Inspired by a similar program in Gaithersburg, the City Council will explore options, such as loans or grants of $12,500-$25,000 to help eligible employees with a down payment or closing costs. Uncertain is whether employees receiving assistance will be required to buy homes in Rockville or if there is an expectation they would continue to work for the City for a minimum number of years.
The City of Rockville is exploring “Bank on Rockville,” a proposed initiative to support the financial capacity of Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed (ALICE) residents by providing education, access to safe and affordable banking, and alternatives to costly or predatory financial services. This program could be funded by ARPA and other sources and partner with organizations such as Montgomery College, CAFE Montgomery, Super VITA, and SECU. Human Services Advisory Commission members have testified in support of Bank On Rockville at multiple City Council hearings but with so many project goals and objectives (many of them are not SMART) and costs ranging from $78,000 to $293,000, I suspect the City Council will be overwhelmed by the choices and will have difficulty making a decision.
More details in the 131-page agenda packet are available at https://www.rockvillemd.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_03212022-6541.