At the April 5 meeting of the Rockville Community Coalition, Andrea Jolly shared that the Chamber of Commerce is becoming more active in local advocacy and that the Chamber cares as much about the community as it does business. She’s the executive director of the Rockville Chamber of Commerce, an organization that now claims 185 members, a dramatic turnaround from its nearly lifeless condition just a few years ago. As examples of their reinvigorated stature, she noted the public stand they’ve taken on behalf of Pumphrey’s; the support for environmental causes that affect the community as a whole (such as the bag tax and storm water management fees); and the sponsorship of the Rockville Economic Summit. She expressed her concerns that the community seems to be artificially divided between businesses and residents and while the Council claims to be business-friendly, their actions have indicated otherwise. Most members of the Chamber are small businesses that are locally owned and operated and rely heavily on local residents as both customers and employees. She also voiced a desire that there be good relationships throughout the community rather than irreconcilable differences–we may disagree at times, but we should always be willing to work together to solve shared issues.
During the discussion:
- she clarified the relationship with the Rockville Economic Development, Inc. (they attract and retain businesses but cannot advocate; Chamber provides ongoing services to its members and the current business community, can advocate for a business-friendly atmosphere). She also mentioned that REDI may have a new executive director in place in May.
- she was unaware that the City didn’t collect Continue reading →
Maryland State Delegate Jim Gilchrist of Rockville has proposed a far reaching change to the Maryland tax code that would add sales taxes to 34 additional services starting January 1, 2013 including:
- cable television
- automobile repair warranties
- auto repair and road service
- parking (although it exempts state government, of course)
- docking services
- shoe repair
- public lockers
- employment agencies
- temporary help
- tax preparation services
- notary public
- testing labs
- weighing machines
- physical fitness facilities
- dieting services
- barbers and hair stylists
- management consulting
- pest exterminators
- interior decorating
- shop window decorating
Really? Do we need more taxes in this economy? Do we want to add more government paperwork to small businesses, such as barbers, interior decorators, and shoe repairmen? Tax the service that helps prepare our taxes? Tax unemployed people who are trying to get temporary job or get help from an employment agency? Really?
This change in the law has not been adopted but is under consideration by the State House of Delegates, so you still have time to voice your opinion. State government legislation is notoriously hard to follow (and the legislature has been reluctant to be more transparent because it would mean giving up control) but according to the Rockville Chamber of Commerce, House Bill 1051 will be heard by the Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, March 6. If you have concerns, contact the delegates that represent Rockville:
- Luiz Simmons: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Kumar Barve: email@example.com
- Jim Gilchrist: firstname.lastname@example.org (who proposed this legislation with Delegate Sheila Hixson on February 10)
Read House Bill 1051 for yourself–everything in bold capitals is new.
Today is a double-header for the Rockville City Council candidates, putting a punctuation point to a long series of debates this season. I attended this afternoon’s session hosted at the Senior Center and tonight is the last with the Chamber of Commerce. By now, the candidates have honed their thoughts and can quickly state their positions, which is much more helpful to the voters. You can also see where alliances have formed, how their personalities affect their thinking, and where there is uncertainty. From today’s forum, it seemed the alliances are Marcuccio, Newton, Hall, and maybe Gottfried vs. Gajewski and Pierzchala (if we arranged this by nationality, we’d have. . .hmm).
This forum was primarily focused on the needs and interests of seniors, so there were questions about the candidates’ ideas to support “aging in place,” homeowner’s tax credit, affordable housing, and the impact of decreased county and state support on Rockville’s senior programming, but some ranged further, for example a surprising question on the King Farm transitway. The $100 homeowners tax credit was discussed throughout the afternoon, with Gajewski and Hall clearly supporting its reappearance; Marcuccio and Newton only if the eligibility criteria could be tightened (e.g., only for seniors); and Francis clearly against, calling it a smokescreen for the more important issue of unfair property taxes and adoption of a piggyback income tax. Time was wasted on the question, “Where senior services ranked as a priority” because no politician will Continue reading →
In yesterday’s mail I received the Twinbrook Citizens Association newsletter and noted that President Christina Ginsberg devoted a portion to historic preservation in Rockville in her article, “Is Your Home ‘Historic’?” As a member of the Historic District Commission (HDC) living in Twinbrook, I appreciate the attention to this long-standing effort in the City of Rockville, but I also want to correct some factual errors and misunderstandings, particularly because they can result in unnecessary conflicts and spread misinformation. Here are the common myths regarding preservation in Rockville:
1. If my house is designated, it’ll prevent improvements. False. In Rockville, owners of historic properties can complete routine repairs and maintenance without review or approval, as long as they replace in kind. So fix your roof with the same material, it’s okay. Change from asphalt to slate, it’ll need to be approved by the HDC. Paint colors are never subject to approval, so if you like yellow and purple stripes, go ahead. Work on the inside of your house isn’t reviewed by the HDC, so remodel your kitchen and bathroom. It’s permanent changes to the outside of your house that matter, and even then, if they are thoughtfully designed Continue reading →
On Friday, September 16, the City of Rockville hosted an orientation for council candidates at Glenview Mansion to provide a general overview of city government and its operations. Every candidate except the incumbents attended, and we received short presentations for every department head and the City Manager, City Attorney, and City Clerk that outlined the current status, anticipated challenges, and major projects.
The City Manager opened the orientation by recognizing the importance of elected citizens because we “can’t have a city government without a council” and noted that 2010 will be auspicious Continue reading →
When people about taxes and city services, you often hear:
- Our taxes are too high. Why can’t the Mayor and Council lower the tax rate?
- We pay a lot in taxes. We deserve to have trash picked up twice a week. Why haven’t they fixed my sidewalk?
- Our taxes are fine, but why does the money always get spent on the west side of town?
and so on. I’ve never heard anyone say their taxes are too low.
Taxes are certainly one of those topics that will bring nearly any citizen to a frenzy so I try to avoid it whenever possible except to say that Continue reading →