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Kensington, MD 20891

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Recommendations of the Transit Task Force

Posted on by Amy Ginsburg

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Below you’ll find the Recommendations of the County Executive’s Transit Task Force Draft Report that was released yesterday.  You can read the full report here and learn more about the Transit Task Force here.  (You can testify at the September 30th  on the public forum on the Transit Task Force Draft Report by calling 240-777-7165.)

Bottom line, the 75-page report concludes that subject to a broad range of conditions and limitations that address labor, funding, and governance concerns,  the Task Force recommends the creation of a new transit authority empowered to develop and operate a Rapid Transit System. An RTS network will address critical transportation, economic, environmental and social needs in the County, and the faster we create a RTS, the better the County will be. The Task Force urges enabling legislation to be introduced in and adopted by the General Assembly.

More specifically, the Task Force recommends:

The enactment by the General Assembly of enabling legislation authorizing Montgomery County to establish a transit authority, subject to certain terms, provisions, conditions and limitations as listed below:

That the governing board of the transit authority consist of up to 7 members, appointed for staggered 4 year terms, with several suggested criteria for appointment.

That the County Council be authorized to establish special tax districts consisting either of the entire County or specifically defined areas within the County.

That the transit authority be authorized to impose special real property taxes within special tax districts, the revenues from which would be dedicated to the use of the transit authority for transit. The transit authority would impose such taxes and set tax rates annually, subject to the veto of the Council.  The maximum rate be set at 7¢ per $100 of assessed valuation.

That the transit authority be authorized to impose a new excise tax, taxing the privilege of leasing property defined as “commercial property” within the County. Revenues from such an excise tax would be dedicated to the use of the transit authority for transit functions assigned to it. The transit authority would impose such taxes and set tax rates annually, subject to the veto of the Council. The maximum rate be set at 30¢ per square foot of gross commercial space leased or being marketed for lease.

That all dedicated transit revenues be used only to fund transit authority activities.

That the transit authority be required to submit to the Council and Executive a multi-year capital improvement program, an annual capital budget and an annual operating budget, each of which shall be subject to the review and approval of the Council.

That the exercise by the transit authority of the power of eminent domain be subject to Council approval consistent with Title 12 of the Real Property Article of the State Code.

That the Council’s implementing legislation require the transit authority to submit to the Council annual independent financial audits and periodic management audits, to be published for public review, and adopt reasonable performance metrics for the transit corridors after they are operational.

That the Council subject the transit authority to County Ethics laws; to review of its personnel, functions and activities by the County’s Inspector General; to the County’s Open Government initiative, and to a requirement to develop and periodically report performance metrics.

That the transit authority be empowered to enter into interjurisdictional agreements to promote both inter-county and regional transit service, and authorized to enter into agreements with municipalities where appropriate.

That the County government consider whether it wishes to sponsor legislation for enactment by the General Assembly to authorize a one-half cent sales tax for Montgomery County, the principal and income of which to be used only to fund transit authority activities.

That all county employees who are or could be members of a collective bargaining unit under County law, including but not limited to Ride On and Department of General Services employees, will remain as County employees.

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