Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Letter to the Council's PHED and MFP Committee Regarding the Regional Centers

April 23, 2010

The Honorable Duchy Trachtenberg
Chair, Management and Fiscal Policy Committee

The Honorable Michael Knapp
Chair, Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee

Montgomery County Council Montgomery County Council
100 Maryland Avenue 100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, Maryland 20850 Rockville, Maryland 20850

Dear Councilmembers Trachtenberg and Knapp:

I write on behalf of the Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board (MCCAB) in anticipation of your April 30th joint worksession of the Management and Fiscal Policy and the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee to discuss the Regional Service Centers and the Office of Community Partnerships. We appreciate the fact that both Committees will have the opportunity to review the work of these important County agencies.

We are deeply concerned about the County Executive’s proposal to cut each of the five Regional Centers’ staffs to three staff members, in some cases a cut of 66%. The recommended budget would allow for the positions of Regional Director, Program Manager I, and Senior Executive Administrative Aide.

However, we believe a better use of scarce County resources would be to reallocate central staff and decision making to the Regional Services Centers. We feel the County has reached the point of diminishing economies of size. Further, we believe the residents will be better served by high-level County staff who have immediate contact with decision makers working in our neighborhoods where we can easily reach out to them. The County would save money and improve services by reallocating human and monetary resources from the central offices to the regional offices.

On a personal note, this recommendation is built on a series of MCCAB recommendations over many months. For example, one recommendation made to the County Executive at our CIP priority meeting last summer included recommending a stronger role for the regional centers in coordinating and reviewing capital projects. In addition, the MCCAB has expanded the number of its meetings in various settings throughout the Mid-County region. While this choice has involved more work for staff, we have found a very positive return on investment for improving two-way communication.

In each case, speakers identified long festering problems and the Regional Center staff solved those problems forthwith. Thus, we recommend transferring more decision making from the central offices to the Regional Services Centers and we believe there may be a budget savings realized.

We thank you for the opportunity to share our recommendations with you.


Sheldon Fishman

cc: Councilmembers
County Executive Isiah Leggett

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