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Your latest Mill Creek Village Community Newsletter...

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Table of Contents
1.  A Message from County Executive on Voting Click here

1.5 County Exec.'s Message on Ballot Questions Click here

2.  Authors Zoom Events Click here

3.  ...More on Voting Click here

4.
  Free Virtual Tax Preparations Click here

5.  Events From Village Coordinator Click here

6.  LGBTQ2 + Seriously Ill Seniors Event by CaringMatters 10/8 Click here

7.  County Forum on Mental Health & Recovery Event 10/1 Click here

8.  County Exec.Virtual FY22 Budget Forum Series (Next on 9/21) Click here

9. Senior Planet Montgomery Events & Resources Click here
A Message from County Executive on Voting

Dear Friends

Election day is less than two months away, and for those who have ordered mail-in ballots (it is not too late to do that), they will begin arriving in just a few weeks. 

This will be an election unlike any we have experienced. Here in Montgomery County, we will only have about 40 polling places open throughout the County on election day (usually there are 255 voting locations). Here’s some important information:

  • There are three ways to vote: by mail, in-person early voting (Monday, Oct. 26, through Monday, Nov. 2) and in-person election day (Tuesday, Nov. 3).
  • Voting by mail is the best way to avoid lines and crowds. You must apply for a ballot – either with the application you should have received in the mail or online.
  • If you apply for a mail-in ballot, please request a ballot in the mail – not through an email link (unless you have to).
  • The email link/internet version requires two people to hand copy the results onto a ballot that can be scanned – that is a lot of work and will slow the final vote count.
  • You can check the status of your ballot application online.
  • Paper ballots will begin to arrive in the mail in late September or the beginning of October. They come with a postage pre-paid envelope to mail back.
  • Vote by mail ballots must be postmarked on or before election day. Mail early or plan to  put your mail-in ballot in a voting drop box.
  • Secure drop boxes will be located at all early voting sites beginning Oct. 1 and at all voting centers on Oct. 15. A list of all locations will be included with your ballot. 
  • Please SIGN THE AFFIDAVIT printed on the envelope that holds your ballot. Do not sign the ballot.
  • Early voting from Oct. 26 through Nov 2 will be available at 11 sites around the County. Hours will be 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can early vote at any center, regardless of where you live in the County.
  • You can register to vote until Tuesday, Oct. 13, and also at early voting centers and on Election Day. More information on how to register is available at MD Board of Elections website. Online registration is recommended if possible.
  • Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. 
County Exec.'s Message on Ballot Questions

Dear Friends,

Even though at times, the pandemic seems all-consuming, we still have to think about what kind of future we want for Montgomery County. Your vote on the ballot questions in this upcoming general election is going to play an important part in determining the shape of our future. The first batch of mail-in ballots will begin arriving in as soon as ten days and there will be six ballot questions on your ballot this year – four county questions and two statewide questions. And as your County Executive, I will not hesitate to take a position on policies in the public interest.

The four countywide questions are lettered A, B, C and D. I am asking you to vote FOR A and C and AGAINST B and D.  I am also asking that you vote FOR statewide Questions 1 and 2. Today I want to focus on Questions A and B.

Questions A and B address property tax collection. Once again, I urge you to vote FOR Question A and AGAINST Question B, and here is why.

Our County’s property tax structure is fundamentally flawed. The current structure purposely manufactures austerity and creates a system that is broken and broke intentionally. It caps our total property tax revenue to the amount collected in the previous year plus inflation (which most recently was only 1.27 percent); it does not limit individual tax bills to the rate of inflation.  Every year this arcane system forces us to recalculate the property tax rate to fit within an overall number that is not tied to economic growth in the county. As a result, the county does not benefit from increased economic growth even as the county must pay the costs of that same growth.

Due to the economic disruptions caused by the COVID pandemic, if not fixed, this arcane system could bankrupt our county. Unlike residential properties, commercial property assessments are based on the income generated by the property, such as rent. As vacancies increase due to the pandemic, assessments may go down. When combined with an inflation rate that is likely to be zero or negative, Montgomery County could be collecting less revenue than last year – this would be crippling to our budget at a time our services are more important than ever before.

Our current charter simply redistributes who pays more or less.  This is why we don’t have a revenue base that would support more robust school construction or the bond financing needed to build the transit we must have if we’re going to provide the infrastructure that new development requires. Here’s another way to think about it - our problem is not stagnant property values, it is our inability, under the current system, to realize the new value of property.

If you want to understand why we lag behind the other side of the river, you need look no further than counties in Virginia and their ability to produce revenue to build major infrastructure projects that our county’s tax structure makes impossible. This is not about raising taxes. It is about is realizing the benefits of growth for the entire community.

To add another level to the perversity of our system, the use of tax credits to stimulate development activity when combined with new construction winds up reducing property tax revenues, which in turn reduces the base against which inflation is applied.  As a result, the County will never see the full tax benefit from major projects – like the new Marriott headquarters project - even after the tax credits expire. 

Our neighbors (and competitors) in the region are focused on the future for their communities – they are investing in infrastructure that businesses and residents want and need. Our charter prevents us from tackling a range of issues like the opportunity gap in our schools, the need for transportation infrastructure, the lack of affordable housing, and more. It leaves our residents and our business community with the false perception that we cannot manage our resources when, in fact, our potential resources are severely limited by the existing property tax system.

The charter amendment currently in place, which has created this revenue straitjacket, was proposed by the Council 30 years ago – 1990. Since then our school population has grown by 65 percent and overall population by 40 percent. In the last 30 years, we have increased our services and we have more challenges – from traffic congestion to climate change to greater economic disparity. Over the same time period, the tax rate has declined 35 percent.

Don’t be deceived! Our current County Charter limits the growth of property tax revenue – not property tax rates, and resident property taxes are NOT capped at inflation – they are tied to property assessments.

To explain this point, when we looked at actual property taxes bills for a few properties from 2018 and 2019, we found surprising differences in tax increases and decreases that were random. A home in Silver Spring assessed around $600,000 had their property taxes increase significantly; a home in Potomac valued at more than $2 million had a slight tax decrease, and property taxes for a commercial property in Rockville valued at around $370 million saw a tax decrease even though their assessment increased. 

I also want to make a point that both the status quo and Question A require a unanimous vote by the Council to raise the limit – for the revenue cap (status quo) or the tax rate cap (Question A).  Passing Question A will not raise taxes. Question A would – without raising the tax rate – allow us to capture some of the revenue we need to reinvest in our community to move us forward as an economic leader in the region.

Question A allows us to focus on the tax rate rather than the total revenues collected. And the rate cannot be raised unless all Councilmembers vote to raise it. It is simple, and it enables us to capture the economic growth in our county. Additionally, I would note that if Question A passes, our tax rate will still be lower than that of Howard, Prince George’s, Anne Arundel and Frederick counties.

Question B by contrast would take us in the wrong direction. It would keep the current revenue cap and not allow it to ever go above the rate of inflation – even with a unanimous vote by all members of the Council. Put simply, Question B deprives you of your democratic right to representation. Question B could bankrupt our county. In times of emergency or great need, we will not be able to raise revenue beyond the inflation rate. It threatens our AAA bond rating. If we are downgraded, borrowing will be more expensive and will mean we will be unable to provide needed services and amenities. Question B denies us our ability to meet the needs of our residents and businesses – no matter how much we grow the tax base. Question B makes a bad situation worse.

Please educate yourself on these ballot questions. I respectfully ask you to vote FOR Question A and AGAINST Question B.

Author Zoom Events

A DISCUSSION WITH AUTHOR MICHELLE BRAFMAN

Join Michelle Brafman who will lead a virtual discussion from 10:30 – 11:30 AM on Wednesday September 30. 2020 about her novels, “Washing the Dead” and “Bertrand Court.” The program is being hosted by the Charles E. Smith Life Communities of Rockville. MD.

To register, click here

Feel free to read the books in advance of the event to share your thoughts and ask questions. This event will take place via Zoom Meeting. Details will be provided in your event confirmation.

Brafman will discuss the motivation for her writing and her journey to becoming an author. As Brafman has said, “Writing is not my first gig. I’ve also worked as a coffee barista, radio advertising salesperson, and filmmaker, among other jobs. My resume reads like a ransom note, yet this assortment of life experiences has propelled me toward my big passion, the coaxing and telling of stories”.

As a filmmaker, the stories that surfaced after the cameras stopped rolling drove her to write some bad short fiction. She kept writing, though, and eventually earned an MA in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University. Her short fiction has since won some nice awards, including a Special Mention in the Pushcart Prize Anthology, and her essays and stories have appeared in Slate, Tablet, Lilith Magazine, the Minnesota review, The Nervous Breakdown, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and numerous other publications.

In addition to her own writing, she helps others find and tune their narrative voices. The Glen Echo, MD resident teaches creative writing at The Johns Hopkins MA in Writing Program and smaller workshops throughout the Washington, D.C. area. She is also a participating author with the PEN/Faulkner Writer in Schools program. In 2003, she founded Yeah Write, a writing coaching business, and three summers ago, she launched a college essay writing workshop.



AN EVENING WITH JAMES BEARD AWARD-WINNING CHEF PATI JINICH

Participate via Zoom meeting on October 29, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. for an engaging presentation by Pati Jinich, host of the two-time James Beard Award-winning and three-time Emmy nominated PBS television series “Pati’s Mexican Table” now going on its ninth season. The series is widely distributed in the US through PBS and streamed worldwide on Amazon Prime.

Born and raised in Mexico City, Jinich is the resident chef at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington D.C. and author of two cookbooks, “Pati’s Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking” and “Mexican Today: New and Rediscovered Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen.” Her third cookbook is slated to be published in the Fall of 2021.

Pati was invited to cook at the White House for President Obama’s Cinco de Mayo and Easter celebrations. She was named one of the “100 Greatest Cooks of All Time” by Epicurious in 2017 and was profiled on the front page of The New York Times food section in October 2018 in the feature “Forget the Wall: Pati Jinich Wants to Build a Culinary Bridge to Mexico.”

Pati is a regular guest on NBC’s “Today Show,” CBS’s “The Talk,” ABC’s “Good Morning America,” The Food Network, NPR’s “All Things Considered” and “The Splendid Table,” and Univision’s “Despierta America.” She has been featured in The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and other national and regional press.
The event is hosted by the Charles E. Smith Life Communities. 

To register, click here

...More on Voting
Montgomery County normally has 240 polling places where residents can vote on election day. In this year's general election, however, voters will go instead to any of the 39 voting centers approved last Friday by the Maryland State Board of Elections. The change is to reduce the risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus and to enable full staffing by election judges at fewer voting sites.

According to the State Board of Elections, about 99.6% of Montgomery County's registered voters live within five miles of one of the 39 voting centers, 25 of which will be in public high schools. The rest will be in county recreation centers and other public facilities.

Click here to see list

Eleven of the voting centers will also be early voting sites. Early voting will run from October 26 to November 2, 7:00am – 8:00pm.

In addition to in person voting, mail in ballot is another option.

You can find more information about mail-in voting, absentee voting, online voter registration and much more by visiting the Montgomery County Board of Elections website. Your participation in the democratic process is essential.

Click here for website

Free Virtual Tax Preparations
Free Virtual Tax Appointments Available for Eligible County Residents Through Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program

The Community Action Agency's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is using a virtual tax preparation model during the COVID-19 emergency. Virtual VITA allows eligible residents to have their taxes prepared for free by a certified tax preparer using an online platform. No in-person contact is required. 

VITA is scheduling off-season appointments for 2018 and 2019 and amended tax returns for those years. Appointments are available for those living in Montgomery County with household income of $56,000 or less. Appointments are available on weekdays during regular business and evening hours. Call 240-777-1123 to schedule an appointment.  

Click here to learn more

Events From Village Coordinator
Please feel free to share a few upcoming opportunities with your networks to help spread the word about a few upcoming activities and programs we have going on.
  1. Outdoor Sip N Paint  Oct. 1st from 9-10:30 AM at Holiday Park Senior Center (See attachment) 
  2. Outdoor Sip N Paint Oct 9th from 9-10:30 AM at Praisner Community Center (See attachment)
  3. Virtual Mail-in Ballot Discussion. Oct 1st. from 1-3 PM. (See Attachment)
  4. Outdoor Walking Club @ Damascus SC September 21st at 9:15 AM Activity # 90806
  5. Virtual Fall Prevention Class September 23rd at 1 PM Activity # 93625
  6.  Virtual Trivia September 29th at 3PM Activity # 93343
  7.  Virtual Bingo Oct. 1 at 1 PM Activity # 93345
You can register for these events by clicking here
LGBTQ2 + Seriously Ill Seniors Event by CaringMatters 10/8
Thursday, October 8th, 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Free of charge. Registration required.
 
Join us for a special webinar with Gary Gardia, LCSW, APHSW-C, a palliative care social worker with over three decades of experience working with seriously ill patients and those receiving hospice care. This session aims to elevate the level of care and inclusion for senior members of the LGBT2Q+ population. It will provide the information and tools necessary to help ensure they receive the compassionate care they need and deserve.
 
The session will:
  • define key terms we frequently hear related to LGBT2Q+ persons
  • describe common health care challenges, fears, and risks seriously ill LGBT2Q+ seniors may experience
  • explore ways to can help assure compassionate care for people in need 
Click here to register
County Forum on Mental Health & Recovery 10/1
Thursday, October 1 6:00 - 8:00pm.

Montgomery County's Fall Forum: "Many Pathways to Family Recovery" will be held online on Thursday, Oct. 1 at 6 pm. The free event focuses on various approaches to mental health care and substance misuse treatment, as well as recent trends in these areas. Live closed captions are available throughout the event in English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese.

Keynote speakers are Jason Martin, the Director of Addiction Services at Sheppard Pratt; and LaTonia Rich, co-executive director of Tree of Hope, an organization that trains peer recovery specialists.

During the virtual resource fair, attendees can speak directly with recovery organizations in the community using video, voice, or text. Attendees will also have opportunities to ask questions to DHHS representatives about County resources during the Q&A Panel.

The forum will be held on the Microsoft Teams Live platform. Participants will receive a link to join the event upon registration.
Click here to register

For more information, email Corey Brandel by clicking here
County Exec. Virtual FY22 Budget Forums Series (Next 9/21)
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich is holding a series of virtual forums about priorities for the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) Operating Budget and the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) budget. The next forum will start at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 21, and will focus on the operating budget. Each of the forums will be hosted via Microsoft Teams.

The FY22 Budget forums are scheduled as follows:
Monday, September 21: FY22 County Operating Budget Forum at 7:00 pm
Join Microsoft Teams Meeting
Wednesday, September 30: FY22 County Operating Budget Forum at 7:00 pm
Join Microsoft Teams Meeting
Thursday, October 8: Citizens Advisory Board/CIP Forum, Mid County at 7:00 pm
Join Microsoft Teams Meeting
Tuesday, October 13: Citizens Advisory Board/CIP Forum, Bethesda at 7:00 pm
Join Microsoft Teams Meeting
Monday, October 26: Citizens Advisory Board/CIP Forum, Up County at 7:00 pm  
Join Microsoft Teams Meeting
Wednesday, October 28: Citizens Advisory Board/CIP Forum, Silver Spring at 7:00 pm
Join Microsoft Teams Meeting

Sign language interpreter services will be provided only upon request with notice as far in advance as possible, but no less than 72 hours prior to the event.  If these or other services or aids are needed to participate in this activity, call 240-777-6507, Maryland Relay 711, or email a request by clicking here

The September 21 and 30 meetings will be streamed live on the County’s website and Facebook page and on the YouTube channel. Montgomery County residents can view the meeting live with closed captioning on County Cable Montgomery by tuning to Comcast Channel 6 or 996 HD; RCN Channel 6 or 1056 HD; or Verizon Channel 30. Residents also can join Montgomery County’s conversation about the FY22 Operating Budget on social media and help raise awareness by using #MoCoBudget22.

Click here for more information
Senior Planet Montgomery Events & Resources
ASHA for Women
Join us on Zoom on Sunday, September 27 from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm
An online event inspired by our evergreen seniors

Techniques to relax and rejuvenate
Chit chat with our Holistic practitioner
Cooking for fun and joy
Music old, new and everything in between
And much more...

Click here to register for free. For registration assistance call the Seniors Helpline at 1-833-999-9080 or email by clicking here


Coming in Early October: Active Aging Week!
Monday, October 5 through Sunday, October 11

Residents are invited to safely attend free programs & activities that help you Go, Grow and Get Active. Some programs require advanced registration. All State social distancing measures are required for in-person activities.
Click here for a calendar of events.
To learn more about changing the way you age, click here 


COVID-19 Language Hotline
CASA Spanish/English Health Hotline:  301-270-8432
Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
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