Rockville’s Mayor and Council continue budget deliberations this month with public hearings and work sessions focused on crafting a Fiscal Year 2023 budget that outlines the city’s priorities.
City Manager Rob DiSpirito was scheduled to present the Mayor and Council with a FY 2023 budget proposal on Feb. 28 that focuses on Mayor and Council priorities while addressing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The FY 2023 proposed budget uses resources wisely and focuses on several Mayor and Council priorities, including implementation of the Comprehensive Plan, environmental sustainability and Climate Action Plan, Vision Zero, economic development, and financial sustainability and pandemic recovery,” DiSpirito wrote in a letter introducing the budget. “While there are many other items proposed in the FY 2023 budget (including cultural arts, [the Americans with Disabilities Act], grants management, public safety, and housing), staff understood these to be top priority areas for FY 2023.”
Find video of the presentation with the Feb. 28 meeting listing at www.rockvillemd.gov/AgendaCenter.
The budget, which covers the fiscal year that begins July 1, is scheduled for adoption by the Mayor and Council on Monday, May 9.
The proposed FY 2023 operating budget of $148.6 million is a 5.2% increase over the FY 2022 adopted budget. The general fund budget, which supports the largest portion of the operating budget, is $93.1 million, a 7.7% increase.
The city’s current real property tax rate of $0.292 per $100 of assessed valuation would remain the same for FY 2023. All residential and commercial property owners pay this tax. Rockville has not increased its property tax rate since 1995.
The proposed budget prioritizes implementation of the Comprehensive Plan. Adopted by the Mayor and Council in August, the plan contains the core philosophy that guides development, conservation, and capital improvement projects to improve quality of life in Rockville.
Other priorities in the proposal include:
- $4.2 million for flood mitigation, electric vehicle infrastructure, LED streetlight conversion, and storm drain analysis and spot repairs as part of the Climate Action Plan adopted in January. The proposed budget also funds the creation of a sustainability program manager position to implement and manage city initiatives recommended by the plan.
- $8.4 million for several projects that support Vision Zero, a transportation safety action plan to eliminate all traffic-related deaths and serious injuries. Projects include asphalt and concrete improvements and replacement, LED streetlight conversion, and pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements to sidewalks and roadways.
- $1.6 million for Rockville Economic Development, Inc., the nonprofit charged with helping businesses launch, locate and expand in Rockville. The 13% increase over FY 2022 will support operational cost increases, tourism promotion, REDI’s business incentive program and a commercial district creation project.
- $300,000 for two-year contract for a consultant to assist with an update to the city’s zoning ordinance.
- Restoration of operating funds, eliminated during the pandemic, and funding for the Employee Compensation and Classification Study recommendations to make employee compensation competitive with the market.
The proposal calls for an increase of 17.8 full-time equivalent positions, including four that were previously frozen. They are two senior planners, a police major, and a senior construction projects manager.
The proposed FY 2023-FY 2027 CIP, the five-year plan for funding new construction and infrastructure maintenance, includes $27.3 million in new funding, combined with a carryover of $58.2 million to support 46 projects during the fiscal year.
Proposed FY 2023-FY 2027 Capital Improvements Program
Eleven projects are new to the FY 2023-FY 2027 Capital Improvements Program. For more information on each, see page 27 of the proposed FY 2023 budget at www.rockvillemd.gov/budget.
- Rockville Civic Center Park Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant accessible sidewalk.
- King Farm Farmstead electric infrastructure. Fully funded with ARPA funds.
- King Farm Farmstead garage and tenant building stabilization and rehabilitation.
- Pedestrian bridge replacement at Woottons Mill Park.
- RedGate Park infrastructure and amenities, based on the outcome of the park’s master planning process.
- Scott Drive and Veirs Drive shared-use path, between Glen Mill Road and Wootton Parkway.
- Development of a Flood Resiliency Master Plan.
- Storm drain analysis and spot repair in Potomac Woods.
- Water treatment plant cybersecurity improvements. Fully funded with ARPA funds.
- Water treatment plant sludge dewatering equipment replacement.
- Electric vehicle charging infrastructure, on city property and possibly rights of way adjacent to city facilities, to serve the city fleet and potentially employees and the community.
FY 2023 budget at a glance calendar
- Monday, March 7: Public hearing.
- Monday, March 21: Budget public hearing, and work sessions on the budget and the use of ARPA funds.
- Monday, April 4: Public hearing.
- Friday, April 15: Close of budget public record.
- Monday, April 18: Work session.
- Monday, April 25: Final direction on budget.
- Monday, May 9: Adoption of the operating budget and Capital Improvements Program.
- Friday, July 1: FY 2023 begins.
For information about how to testify at hearings, find agendas, posted the week before each date, at www.rockvillemd.gov/AgendaCenter.
Meetings are broadcast on channel 11 on county cable, livestreamed at www.rockvillemd.gov/rockville11, and available a day after each meeting at www.rockvillemd.gov/videoondemand.
To review the proposed budget, visit www.rockvillemd.gov/budget.
Offer Your Ideas
- Using the budget survey, in English and Spanish, at www.rockvillemd.gov/budget.
- At public hearings during the Mayor and Council meetings on March 7 and April 4.
Rockville’s four utility funds are enterprise funds. They function like a private business, with costs fully recovered through user charges. The utility funds are the water fund, the sewer fund, the refuse fund, and the stormwater management fund.
Revenue from the funds pays for repairs and replacement of aging water and sewer pipes and other infrastructure vital to providing these services, and for required payments to the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission related to a regional wastewater treatment plant. The city does not control the amount paid for regional wastewater treatment.
In January, the city transitioned to a rate structure based on property classification, namely single family, multifamily and nonresidential. This new structure more equitably distributes the cost of providing water and sewer service.
For a table showing water and sewer usage charges for each classification, see page 374 of the proposed budget at www.rockvillemd.gov/budget.
Other changes to city utility rates include a proposed $20 annual increase in the refuse and recycling rate, to $479 per household. The stormwater management rate would increase by $6, to $138 for the year, following four years of the same rate.
ARPA Aids in Pandemic Recovery
The city received $9.6 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding.
ARPA’s goal is to aid state and local governments in recovering from the budgetary, economic, and financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During Fiscal Year 2022, the Mayor and Council appropriated $5.6 million of ARPA funds for the following:
- $1 million for delinquent water and sewer bill forgiveness.
- $1.4 million for commercial water meter replacements.
- $750,000 for upgrades to the city’s water treatment plant.
- $530,000 for water treatment plant safety improvements.
- $300,000 for water treatment plant cybersecurity improvements.
- $650,000 for King Farm Farmstead sewer infrastructure.
- $450,000 for King Farm Farmstead electrical infrastructure.
- $533,345 for an enclosure for the recycling transfer station at the city’s Gude Drive Maintenance Facility.
The remaining $4 million will be discussed and likely appropriated in calendar year 2022.