Purple Line

Council Committees Meet on Oct. 28

The Montgomery County Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T and E) Committee will hold a work session on Oct. 28 at 9:30 a.m. to discuss the proposed public/private partnership that would be formed to build the Purple Line—an east-west transit line that would connect the Bethesda and New Carrollton Metrorail stations.

The T and E Committee, which is chaired by Roger Berliner and includes Councilmembers Nancy Floreen and Hans Riemer, will meet in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The meeting will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcast also will be streamed through the County Web site at www.montgomerycountymd.gov .

The Maryland Department of Transportation’s Draft Fiscal Years 2013-18 Consolidated Transportation Program notes that the Purple Line will be partly funded with “a combination of state and private investment through a public-private partnership to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the entire project.”

MDOT is anticipating a 35-year agreement, with the private entity responsible to complete the design and construct the Purple Line over a five-year period—which the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) would oversee—followed by 30 years of operations. MTA would set and collect fares throughout the 30-year period of operations. The private entity would receive “availability payments” above and beyond the fares collected in order to cover the return on its investment. However, these availability payments would also be subject to deductions if pre-established performance criteria are not met.

On Nov. 6, the Maryland Board of Public Works is scheduled to decide whether to allow the Purple Line to proceed as a public-private project.

At the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Annual Tour Meeting in Rockville on Oct. 17, Committee Chair Berliner and several members of Montgomery’s State Delegation to the General Assembly asked for more information about how this public-private partnership would work. MDOT Secretary Jim Smith agreed to make his staff available for Monday’s briefing.

The T and E Committee also will discuss Bill 11-13 that would establish a commercial property assessed clean energy (PACE) program to assist qualifying commercial property owners to make energy improvements. It also would establish a revolving loan fund to provide property owners loans under the program.

The County’s Office of Management and Budget’s indicates that Bill 11-13 would have a fiscal impact, but it would depend on the size and scope of the program. According to the statement, the Department of Environment Protection cannot implement the program without retaining a consultant to design a program suitable for the County, which would cost $100,000-$150,000. Elements that would contribute to the fiscal impact include financing costs, startup costs (marketing and outreach, develop web infrastructure) and ongoing program costs.

The fiscal impact statement notes that the fiscal impact to the County would be lessened if the commercial PACE program employed owner-arranged or quasi-government financing. A bill that would allow this type of financing was introduced in the 2013 General Assembly session, but was not enacted.

The State does not currently have a commercial PACE program. State law authorizes political subdivisions to establish clean energy loan programs for residential and commercial property owners to finance energy efficiency projects and certain renewable energy projects.

At 2 p.m. in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room, the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee, which is chaired by Nancy Navarro and includes Councilmembers Valerie Ervin and Hans Riemer, will hold a work session on the report from the Office of Legislative Oversight on Municipal Tax Duplication and Revenue Sharing. Under Maryland law, municipalities can be reimbursed by Counties in certain circumstances if they provide similar services as the County. There has been an ongoing discussion on what formulas should be used to determine the amount of payments.


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