Rockville’s Mayor and Council continue budget deliberations this month with a public hearing and work sessions focused on crafting a Fiscal Year 2024 budget that outlines the city’s priorities.
City Manager Rob DiSpirito was scheduled to present the Mayor and Council with a FY 2024 budget proposal on Feb. 27 that focuses on Mayor and Council priorities and fiscal sustainability, while navigating the challenges of market volatility, high inflation, supply chain delays, and workforce recruitment and retention.
“Despite these challenges, Rockville has been committed to providing high-quality services and seeking transformation through the leadership of the Mayor and Council,” DiSpirito wrote in a letter introducing the budget. “The FY 2024 proposed budget includes funding for the reinstatement of the community survey, an employee compensation and classification study, and funding for the addition of two councilmembers beginning after the 2023 election. The FY 2024 budget also provides funding for Rockville Economic Development Inc., including expanding the MOVE program to support attraction of net new businesses to Rockville.”
Find video of the presentation with the Feb. 27 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 8.
The proposed FY24 operating budget of $156.4 million is a 5.1% increase over the FY 2023 adopted budget. The general fund budget, which supports the largest portion of the operating budget, is $100.7 million, an 8% increase.
The city’s current real property tax rate of $0.292 per $100 of assessed valuation would remain the same for FY24. All residential and commercial property owners pay this tax. Rockville has not increased its property tax rate since 1995.
The proposed budget prioritizes the city’s continued commitment to capital investments, including several large capital projects. (See the box below for details.) The proposed FY 2024-FY 2028 Capital Improvements Program, the five-year plan for funding new construction and infrastructure maintenance, supports 44 projects during the fiscal year.
The proposal also funds Mayor and Council priorities, including:
- Additional funding for the city’s justice, equity, diversity and inclusion work.
- More support for recruiting police officers.
- Expanded recreation camps and programming, including for teens.
- Increased funding to address inflationary impacts to caregiver partner organizations.
- Addressing pay compression for temporary recreation employees.
- Free access to Croydon Creek Nature Center programs for schools serving students from low-income families.
- Increased staffing for after-school programs at Twinbrook Elementary.
- Funding for November’s city election.
- The Labyrinth Flame of Hope project at Mattie J. T. Stepanek Park.
- Continued support for community organization partners.
Other priorities include performance management and project-tracking software to assist with monitoring the progress of city plans and major projects. Plans prioritized in the proposed budget are:
- The Comprehensive Plan, adopted in August 2021 to guide city development, conservation and capital improvement projects. The budget proposal funds a new community enhancement codes inspector, short-term rental compliance monitoring and $250,000 for a pilot program to offer down payment assistance for city police officers buying a home in the city.
- The Climate Action Plan, which was adopted in January 2022 and charts a course for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030. The proposal includes $300,000 for a new Stormwater Incentive Program, building on existing rebate programs to encourage owners to make larger, more innovative flood resiliency improvements to their properties. The proposal also continues funding for: the food scrap composting drop-off program, $3.1 million for capital projects supporting climate sustainability and resiliency, converting additional streetlights to light-emitting diodes, additional electric vehicle charging infrastructure, completion of the Electric Vehicle Readiness Plan, purchasing electric vehicles, and the city’s first solar panel installation.
- The Vision Zero Action Plan, which was adopted in July 2020 and outlines a path to eliminating traffic- and pedestrian-related deaths and serious injuries by 2030. The proposal includes $8.1 million for seven capital projects that support Vision Zero, sidewalk installations, pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements, intersection audits and improvements, continued work related to the Bikeway Master Plan, LED streetlights, and completion of the Town Center Road Diets project. Adoption of the Pedestrian Master Plan, a Vision Zero action item, is also expected during FY24.
City Manager’s Proposed FY 2024-FY 2028 Capital Improvements Program
- Comprehensive design for RedGate Park Master Plan implementation, including for the initial phase, which will include a dog park, community gardens, improved walking trails and a park-wide arboretum.
- Outdoor recreation pool improvements at the Rockville Swim and Fitness Center.
- Americans with Disabilities Act-related improvements to the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre.
- Design for the King Farm Farmstead Dance and Fitness Studio.
- Hurley Avenue Bridge replacement.
- Stonestreet Avenue Corridor improvements.
- Lincoln Park Community Center improvements to expand academic enrichment and recreational programming for the community.
- Design of a new entrance for vehicles, bikes and pedestrians to access the Rockville Senior Center from West Gude Drive, while reducing the volume of vehicle traffic through existing residential neighborhoods.
- Right of way acquisition for extending Maryland and Dawson avenues in Rockville Town Center.
- Continued design and planning for the Twinbrook Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge.
- Completion of the Town Center Road Diets Project.
- A master plan to assess systems and equipment at the water treatment plant, and perimeter security improvements at the plant.
For more information on each project, see page 280 of the proposed FY24 budget at www.rockvillemd.gov/budget.
FY24 Budget at a Glance Calendar:
- Monday, March 6: Public hearing and work session.
- Monday, March 20: Work session.
- Monday, April 17: Public hearing and work session.
- Friday, April 21: Close of budget survey and budget public record.
- Monday, May 1: Work session.
- Monday, May 8: Adoption of the FY24 operating budget and Capital Improvements Program.
- Saturday, July 1: FY24 begins.
Note: Budget calendar dates are subject to change. 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, simplified Chinese, French, Korean and Spanish at www.rockvillemd.gov/budget.
- At public hearings during the Mayor and Council meetings on March 6 and April 17.
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.
The city’s rate structure is based on property classification, namely single family, multifamily, and nonresidential, to distribute, as equitably as possible, the cost of providing water and sewer service. For a table showing water and sewer usage charges for each classification, see page 376 of the proposed budget at www.rockvillemd.gov/budget.
The budget includes a proposed $24 annual increase in the refuse and recycling rate, to $503 per household. The stormwater management rate would increase by $8, to $146 for the year.