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Rocket-building, Backyard Wildlife and Botball at Science Day


What you need to know if you Go
What: Rockville Science Day
When: Sunday, April 19, noon to 5 p.m.
Where: Montgomery College-Rockville, 51 Mannakee St.
Cost: FREE


The 31st annual Rockville Science Day offers a chance to experience science hands-on, with science and technology-related exhibits, activities, games and demos from over 90 local organizations and businesses.

Activities and exhibits include building and launching rockets, telescopes, robots, backyard wildlife, ship models, microscopes, snakes, stream science, a pigeon release, Civil War medical practice, coding challenges, math puzzles, chemistry in action (including flames, explosions and other reactions), electric vehicle demos, quadcopters, archaeology mini-digs, 3-D printing and brain games.

Learn more and register to exhibit at rockvillesciencecenter.org/rockville-science-day/.

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Save Some Green and Create a Place for Wildlife to Be Seen

The city’s RainScapes Rebates program offers single-family homeowners and nonprofits, including religious institutions, private schools and homeowners associations, up to $2,500 in rebates for landscaping that is designed to green your backyard and reduce pollution.

The program offers rebates for planting trees and conservation landscaping, installing rain barrels, or removing pavement and installing permeable pavers – actions that can reduce flooding, decrease pollution in local streams, and support wildlife. To learn more, visit www.rockvillemd.gov/rainscapes or contact
rainscapes@rockvillemd.gov or 240-314-8877.

Looking to get even closer to nature? Homeowners, businesses, schools, universities, places of worship, parks, civic and community organizations, and others can create wildlife-friendly landscapes and earn National Wildlife Federation certification.

Certified wildlife habitats must provide food, water, cover and places for wildlife to raise young. These certified habitats help to create corridors for wildlife to thrive throughout the community. Like RainScapes Rebates, the program encourages gardening in an environmentally friendly way, planting native species of plants and replacing lawns with trees, shrubs and other plants.

To find resources and learn more about becoming certified, visit www.rockvillemd.gov/wildlifehabitat.

Have an Urge to Help? Rockville Wants You to Volunteer

Rockville is always on the hunt for volunteers — and if you have a few extra hours to spare each month, you can make a huge difference in your community, whether by mentoring a kid, shoveling snow for a senior, cleaning a stream or serving on the city’s boards and commissions.

What kind of difference do volunteers make in the city? From July to December 2019, 1,264 volunteers donated more than 13,000 hours to activities in Rockville — an investment of time worth an estimated $260,020.

And what could volunteering do for you? You could learn a new skill, gain work experience that looks good on your résumé, meet new people and network — or just feel good that you made a difference!

If a longer-term volunteer commitment is not manageable, check out one-time opportunities to volunteer. Consider supporting a single special event like the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, wrapping gifts for families in need at the annual Holiday Drive toy shop, or helping at a community center celebration, like the Family Valentine’s Dance.

For volunteers who can commit to a longer-term role, service on one of the city’s boards and commissions allows members of the community to partner with city staff to shape Rockville’s future by sharing expertise and advising the Mayor and Council.

Boards and commissions address a wide range of relevant topics, from the environment to human services to city elections. Visit www.rockvillemd.gov/98/Boards-Commissions to see vacancies and learn more about the application process.

The city’s volunteer program also allows participants to adopt a stream, teach children to swim, assist in numerous ways with the Recreation and Parks Department, remove invasive weeds, mentor youth and (for elementary or middle school students) better the environment by marking storm drains.

To find opportunities to volunteer and an application form, visit www.rockvillemd.gov/volunteer.

New Ethics Rules Add Whisteblower Protection, Expand Disclosure Requirements

Rockville’s city code now includes a whistleblower protection provision, new requirements for certain city employees to file financial disclosure statements and clarifies the city Ethics Commission’s role in reviewing the statements, after the Mayor and Council unanimously adopted changes to the city’s public ethics ordinance on Jan. 6.

The addition of the whistleblower provision ensures that employees and officials can report ethical violations and participate in investigations without fear of retaliation.

Additional changes require the city manager, city clerk, city attorney and department heads to file financial disclosure statements. That includes the directors of planning, finance, human resources, information technology, public works, recreation and parks, communications, and procurement, as well as the chief of police. The deputy city manager, deputy city clerk, deputy city attorney, deputy finance director, and management and budget director are also now required to file statements.

The Ethics Commission is required to review financial disclosure statements to ensure they are complete and to request an amended report if any deficiencies or omissions are found. The commission will also be required to conduct similar reviews for lobbyists, including reviewing lobbying registrations and financial disclosure reports.

The changes also reduce the value of gifts – from $25 to $20 – that certain employees and officials must report in disclosure statements.

For video of the Mayor and Council discussion and more information about the revised ordinance, find the Jan. 6 meeting listing at www.rockvillemd.gov/AgendaCenter.

City Manager to Present Proposed Budget to Mayor and Council

Budget Available Online by Feb. 14; Offer Ideas Online and at Hearings

City Manager Rob DiSpirito will present his proposed Fiscal Year 2021 city budget this month.

The proposed budget, for the fiscal year that begins July 1, will be posted at www.rockvillemd.gov/budget by Friday, Feb. 14. DiSpirito is scheduled to present the proposed budget during the Mayor and Council meeting on Monday, Feb. 24. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 111 Maryland Ave.

The Mayor and Council will hold budget hearings and work sessions on Monday, March 2 and Monday, March 23. A work session is also scheduled for Monday, April 20, with budget adoption scheduled for Monday, May 4.

Find agenda materials and video of the budget hearings, presentation and the Mayor and Council’s Jan. 27 discussion about their budget priorities at www.rockvillemd.gov/AgendaCenter.

Visit www.rockvillemd.gov/budget to use the city’s online survey to choose your budget priorities and offer suggestions. Staff will compile the online submissions and periodically submit them for the Mayor and Council’s review and consideration.

Rockville’s adopted operating budget for the current fiscal year totals $138.9 million.

For more information, call the Finance Department at 240-314-8400.


OFFER IDEAS
• At www.rockvillemd.gov/budget.
• At public hearings on March 2 and March 23.


WATCH IT
The Feb. 24 proposed budget presentation and the public hearings will be:
• Carried live on channel 11 on county cable systems.
• Live streaming at www.rockvillemd.gov/rockville11.
• Available a day after each meeting at www.rockvillemd.gov/videoondemand.


Upcoming Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Calendar
Feb. 24 – Presentation of FY 2021 proposed budget.
March 2 – Public hearing and work session.
March 23 – Public hearing and work session.
April 17 – Close of public record.
April 20 – Work session.
May 4 – Adoption of the FY 2021 Budget.
July 1 – Start of FY 2021.

Creatives Summit Aims to Bring Together City’s Arts Community

The Rockville Cultural Arts Commission is inviting groups from Rockville’s arts community to a summit this March to discuss how to create a more vibrant, culturally diverse, financially sustainable, and economically beneficial arts and culture scene in Rockville.

The Rockville Creatives Summit will be held from 1-5 p.m. Sunday, March 22 in the Buchanan Room of VisArts, 155 Gibbs St.

The summit will cover topics including ideas for marketing and building a diverse audience, as well as the future of arts and culture in the city.

To register to attend, visit www.visitrockville.org and click “Rockville Creatives Summit March 2020,” or email rockvillecac@gmail.com.

Census 2020: Confidential, Safe and Secure

The federal government will conduct the 2020 Census this year and the City of Rockville wants community members to help meet the goal of counting everyone once – and only once – in the right place.

Participating in the census impacts Rockville. Compiled every 10 years, census data is used by the government to define representative boundaries for congressional districts, state legislative districts and voting precincts, and for enforcing voting rights and civil rights legislation. It also determines how billions of dollars in federal funding are distributed for things like health care, senior centers, jobs, roads, schools and businesses.

Census responses are safe and secure. The Census Bureau is required by law to protect any personal information it collects and keep it strictly confidential. Information cannot be shared and cannot be used by law enforcement, or to determine an individual’s eligibility for government benefits. It cannot be used against you in any way – not by the FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or any court. Census workers take a lifetime oath to protect personal information, with a penalty of up to $250,000 and/or up to five years in prison for any violation of this oath.

All Rockville community members are encouraged to complete the census questionnaire by responding online, by phone or by mail. All data submitted online is encrypted to prevent hacking and protect privacy, using the highest and most recent standards for protecting personal information from cyberthreats. It is safe to provide answers and know that they will only be used to paint a statistical portrait of our nation and community.

For more about the census’s data protection and privacy program, visit www.census.gov/privacy.

For more information about the census in Montgomery County, visit montgomerycountymd.gov/census.

Mayor and Council Approve Charter Review Commission

The Mayor and Council voted unanimously Jan. 13 to establish a commission to review the city’s charter.

The charter is a legal document similar to a constitution. It establishes the city’s corporate limits and outlines how the city is organized and conducts business, such as holding elections, levying taxes, adopting ordinances and providing services.

The commission will be comprised of up to 11 city residents. Each member of the Mayor and Council may choose one member. In addition, the mayor will nominate a commission chair, to be approved by the council. The Mayor and Council together will select and approve five additional members. The chair of the city’s Board of Supervisors of Elections will serve as a nonvoting ex officio representative to the commission.

The Mayor and Council will hold at least one public hearing on the scope of the commission’s work, at a date to be determined.

The Mayor and Council last appointed a Charter Review Commission in 2012. That commission made recommendations about the length of elected terms of the Mayor and Council, the number of members on the council, and the schedule by which Mayor and Council elections are held. The commission also identified several ways to enhance voting, including early voting and voting by mail.

Find video of the Mayor and Council’s discussion, and more information about the charter review process, with the Jan. 13 Mayor and Council agenda at www.rockvillemd.gov/AgendaCenter.

Students Have a Chance to be Mayor for a Day in May

Mayor Newton to Visit Rockville Fourth Graders

Rockville fourth graders once again have a chance to serve as the city’s Mayor for a Day this spring by taking part in the statewide “If I Were Mayor” essay contest.

The theme of this year’s contest, organized by the Maryland Municipal League and the Maryland Mayors Association, is “Re-imagine Tomorrow.” Students are asked to write an essay, no longer than 275 words, that would describe how, if they were mayor, they would reimagine their community and describe how they’d make tomorrow better.

One winning essay will be selected from each of MML’s 11 regional districts throughout the state. Winners will receive $100 cash and a governor’s citation and will be recognized during an awards ceremony in Annapolis. Essays must be received by mail by Friday, March 27.

The Mayor and Council consider the contest to be a wonderful exercise in government studies and encourage fourth graders attending schools in Rockville to participate.

Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton welcomes the opportunity to speak with students about the essay contest, municipal government and what it is like to be mayor of Rockville. Teachers or school administrators may email jmobley@rockvillemd.gov to arrange for the mayor to visit their school, though a mayoral visit is not required for students to participate.

In addition to the winners chosen by MML and MMA, the mayor will select a student attending school in Rockville to serve as the city’s Mayor for a Day in May.

Learn more by visiting www.mdmunicipal.org and selecting “Mayor’s Essay Contest” under “Engagement,” or call the City Clerk/Director of Council Operations office at 240-314-8280.

County to Provide Free Tax Preparation Appointments through VITA

Montgomery County is hosting free tax preparation sessions throughout tax season for low- to moderate-income families that earned $56,000 or less in 2019.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, which is run by the Montgomery County Community Action Agency, provides IRS-certified volunteers from nonprofit and public agencies who can help low- to moderate-income families maximize their tax refunds and credits, including the Earned-Income Tax Credit, and e-file their federal and state tax forms.

Appointments in Rockville are available from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. on Wednesdays, until April 15, at the Community Action Agency, 1401 Rockville Pike, Suite 320. The program is for Montgomery County residents only,.

Walk-in consultations are available from 2-6 p.m. Thursdays, from Feb. 6-April 9, at Aspen Hill Library, 4407 Aspen Hill Road.

Schedule an appointment by calling 240-777-1123. (TTY users, call 711) or at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/cashback.

To find more information, including a list of additional locations throughout Montgomery County, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/freetaxhelp or email VITA@montgomery
countymd.gov
.

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City of Rockville
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