Montgomery County has a big problem. The county, once the envy of the nation, is facing an exodus of people and businesses and that means bad news for current residents.
While Montgomery County may have increased in net population from 2010 to 2020, this is not as a result of people moving to Montgomery County. In fact, just the opposite. Since 2010, the number of people leaving Montgomery County has rapidly increased, most notable since 2018. This means that while the population may be increasing, it is from in-county births. Not because people view Montgomery County as a re-location destination. Why would they? Virginia, and most notably, Fairfax and Loudon County, have 10 of the Fortune 500 companies, while Montgomery County has one and Maryland has six. Even neighboring Prince George’s County, once looked over as a failing county, has overtaken Montgomery County in job creation, even before the pandemic in 2020. The list is long. Boeing moves its headquarters to Virginia, passing over Maryland and Montgomery County. Amazon picks Virginia over Maryland and Montgomery County. When was the last time you read a headline that declared a major industry was moving to Montgomery County? I bet not in the last 10 years.
But what does all this mean? It means that the county and its Annapolis delegation need to find new ways to squeeze money from hard-working residents. While County Executive Marc Elrich and the County Council can “tout” they did not raise property taxes, this is a gimmick. While technically true, Elrich, the council and Annapolis leaders did approve an increase in property assessment values. That means, while your property may be more valuable, you are paying more for it. Additionally, Elrich and the council have repeatedly approved Solid Waste Service Charges (another tax) and Water Quality Protection Charges (another tax). Add them up and the average homeowner can expect to pay hundreds of dollars more a year in taxes than they did in 2010.
The council and its Annapolis leaders love to push new standards in the name of climate or social or even racial justice. The council banned single-use plastics, they want to ban gas-powered leaf blowers, they even want to include studies on racial equity and social justice impact in all new legislation. And now, the council wants to enact all-electric building standards for not only new construction but any renovation. That means that new kitchen or bathroom you want to renovate has to meet new standards, which means higher costs to you. They enact this while, comically, at the same time complaining that housing costs are becoming unaffordable for the working class. But unfortunately, the joke is on us.
How do any of these laws and rules do anything but satisfy the fringe elements of a radical agenda, except for costing hard-working residents more? The struggling family in Germantown doesn’t want to pay even more for higher-cost electricity bills when it is already struggling to pay for food. And the new couple to Montgomery County cares more about finding a stable job than about what kind of leaf blowers the apartment’s ground crew uses.
This council cares more about the radical fringe than the average resident. When was the last time this council did anything that actually benefited the whole county and not just the few? They are more interested in banning than creating.
Perhaps it’s time for the residents of Montgomery County to create a new council and delegation, with new leadership. That won’t solve the problem completely, but it will put the county on the road to making it better.
Jason Neuringer lives in Rockville.
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