How is the county going to step up its efforts to protect Ride On bus drivers and passengers? What steps will the county executive take to fund the new Small Business Assistance Program?
These were among the questions Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett fielded from residents on Wednesday in an interactive chat online.
Patch has excerpted questions and answers from the discussion that specifically mentioned the Wheaton and Glenmont area. (The questions and answers have not been edited.) The full transcript of the discussion is available online here. The next live discussion will take place Nov. 21.
Ride On Bus Question:
Hi Mr. Leggett, I have been on Ride On buses when customers have refused to pay bus fare and have literally spit on a driver or are so aggressive that police have to be called. You also have passengers that ride the bus who have some type of mental illness or are inebriated. The police can never arrive fast enough when violence occurs. This has become a common occurrence on various routes in Silver Spring/Wheaton/Glenmont within the past few years. I asked Chief Biggins and Mr. Wells a few years ago how are they going to protect drivers and passengers when situations like these occur. I've never received a response other than we're aware and working on it, waiting over 2 years and counting for that response. Does Ride On have an official mission statement? If not one needs to be created and we the public need to know what it is. Also, can we start having public forums where customers can address concerns/issues for all routes and just not ones that are going to downsized or termin
Thank you for your question and the thoughtful suggestions you have provided. I will follow up with the Director of Transportation, Ms. Biggins and the Police Department to determine how we can best address your concerns. I am sorry that you haven't received a more specific response prior to this. Your suggestion about a public forum is a good one, and we will look into it.
Small Business Question:
Small businesses are a key driver of Montgomery County's economy. What steps will you take to fund the County's new Small Business Assistance Program, also known as Bill 6-12, in your FY14 budget to help businesses adversely impacted by County-subsidized redevelopment projects?
Thank you for your question. I agree that our small businesses are the bedrock of our local economy. As you likely know, I fully supported Bill 6-12 because I know how small businesses can be adversely impacted during redevelopment projects. Currently, we are developing plans for the Wheaton redevelopment and I am committed to assisting the small businesses community there. Bill 6-12 provides a variety of ways to help, including grants, loans or training assistance. I will review where we are in our plans for the Wheaton Redevelopment as I develop recommendations for the FY14 Operating Budget to assure that the County provides the appropriate financial assistance at the right time.
Solar Energy Question:
I invested $20,000 into solar energy on my house in Glenmont. I was able to get the $1,000 state grant, will get $8,000 federal tax credit, but was promised $5,000 grant from the county. When i wanted to apply for the grant there was no more funding. (http://www.mcenergyfunding.com/). Also I don't qualify for the $250 property Tax, since I got the Solar Panels built after November 8, 2011. The county government were the only ones that failed in their promises to help residence into pushing to Solar/Renewable. My decision to invest into Solar was based on all 3 grants/tax breaks. When will there be funding again? An estimated Date/Time would help. Also what other programs will you provide (education), to improve incentives into American green technology? All equipment used to build the Solar Panel System was Made in the US. Thank You.
Thank you for your question. Several years ago, Montgomery County passed a law creating a renewable energy property tax credit that eligible taxpayers could apply for and receive -- subject to an annual funding limit. That annual funding was increased from $250,000 to $400,000 but was still insufficient to meet demand for the credit. Due to a continued rise in applications that created a five-year backlog , the County Council suspended the tax credit last year. Since you signed a contract after the tax credit was suspended, you are not eligible to apply at this time. At present it is uncertain when (or if) the County Council will re-open the program at some time in the future when the backlog is resolved, which will take at least 5 to 6 years. I believe that the program should be expanded if we can find the resources to meet the current and future demands. The $250 energy efficiency property tax credit you referred to is for insulation, windows, etc. and not for renewable energy devices. Finally, the Residential Rebate Program, administered through www.mcenergyfunding.com, was designed to provide incentives for energy efficiency improvements to homes that received a comprehensive energy audit. The program funded a variety of measures including air sealing, insulation, and heating and cooling system improvements. The program, funded by a federal grant. The funding from the Department of Energy explicitly prohibited using the funds for photovoltaic solar for private uses. We retrofitted over 930 homes in our community using this program, but sadly the funding is now exhausted. I hope this answers your question.