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OLO Report, Snow Removal, Trees on Council’s March 18 Agenda

photo of the 17th Montgomery County Council

The Montgomery County Council will receive a report on March 18 from the County’s Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO) regarding “Change Orders in County Government Construction Projects.”

The report examines the change order process for County Government capital facility construction contracts and describes how change orders affect the cost and schedule of recently completed projects.

At approximately 2:15 p.m., the Council is scheduled to receive a briefing on County snow removal operations and problems with the MC311 County centralized call system that occurred during one winter storm.

The Council’s regular weekly session will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The Council’s morning and afternoon sessions will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcast of the meeting also will be streamed at

The Council asked OLO to study change orders in construction projects to help determine if the County is being as cost-effective as possible in building facilities. The report will be the focus of a future worksession to be held by the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee.

During the afternoon briefing on this winter’s snow operations, Chris Voss, director of the County’s Office of Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security (OEMHS), will provide an overview of the County’s response to the Feb. 13-14 snow storm that has been part of a particularly harsh winter.

An executive branch staff report states that the cost of snow removal and storm cleanup (prior to the storm that struck the area on March 16-17) was about $25 million—well more than the $9,126,050 budgeted. Even without this week’s storm, Fiscal Year 2014 projected to be the third most expensive storm-related year of the century (after the $64-plus million in FY10 and the $27-plus million in FY11).

The largest snow event this winter was the storm that closed County Government, public schools and many other facilities on Feb. 13-14. Some of the concerns that will be discussed from that storm are those often raised during large snow events: missed streets for plowing, damage from snow plows and unshoveled sidewalks and bus stops. During the storm, residents reported that the snow response map on the Department of Transportation’s web page did not always function. On the positive side, anecdotal evidence is that power outages were not as prevalent as might have been expected, given past experience.

Also to be discussed are the reasons behind long times on hold and the inability to get through to the County’s MC311 operators during the Feb. 13-14 snowstorm.

As part of the morning session, the Council is expected to take action on four bills that focus on protecting County trees.

During the morning session, and resuming in the afternoon session starting at 1:30 p.m., the Council will hold worksessions on requests for funding that are part of County Executive Isiah Leggett’s recommended Fiscal Years 2015-20 Capital Improvements Program (CIP). The Council will review long-term planned projects for Montgomery College, the Departments of Parks and Recreation, Libraries, the Public Arts Trust, the Housing Opportunities Commission, the Department of Housing and Community Affairs, the Revenue Authority and the auditorium of the former Blair High School in downtown Silver Spring. The Council also will review transportation issues.

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