ROCKVILLE — On July 30, Montgomery County Councilmember Gabe Albornoz saw his first piece of legislation enacted by the full council.
Bill 13-19, or the County Property-Disposition-Reuse Analysis, is designed to change the procedures for disposal of county property. The new legislation requires the county executive to submit a reuse analysis to the council, which would include any proposals for the property from an outside agency.
In other words, the county executive will need to submit an analysis of a property before it is disposed of or sold, and the council will have a chance to see if another government agency made proposals to reuse the property.
“This legislation will increase transparency and give the public the opportunity to offer their views early in the property-disposition process,” Albornoz said, who also chairs the council’s Health and Human Services Committee. “It is important that community members have a voice when county property is offered for sale or for use as part of a public/private partnership. Providing additional opportunities for community input will help the council throughout the decision-making process for surplus county property.”
The bill is meant to bring more accountability and transparency to the process of disposing of county- owned property, according to Albornoz’s office. It also will make clear the council’s option to disapprove of the county executive’s declaration of no further need.
Under Bill-13-19, the council would disapprove of the executive’s declaration of no further need: if it decides that there is, indeed, further need for the property; if a county department or agency has expressed the need for the property; or, if approval of the declaration is in opposition to public interest.
The bill outlines agencies such as the Housing Opportunities Commission, Montgomery College and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, among other groups that could indicate their interest in county property.
Under current laws, the county executive is obliged to implement regulations that require a comparative analysis of reuse proposals before he or she can dispose of county property. According to Albornoz’s office, Bill 13-19 will require that the county council be allowed to comment on the reuse analysis report before the property is disposed of.
“The council’s authority in the disposition process is currently limited to approving or disapproving, by resolution, a declaration of no-further-needed issues by the Executive,” wrote Richard Madaleno, who serves as the director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Madaleno went on to explain that the bill is not expected to make a fiscal impact. “The bill could lead to fewer dispositions of real property, but any actual impact is indeterminate,” he wrote.
Council will be allowed 30 days to comment on the county executive’s declaration of no further need.
“The council has a unique perch: it does have the ability to see the entire county from a variety of different sectors, and we know how precious our land is in the county and our properties in the county, and we must leverage that as best we can,” Albornoz said. “This bill adds another layer of transparency. It also gives the council further ability to see what our sister county agencies potentially have in mind when it comes to this bill.”
On June 18 testimony, Greg Ossont of the Department of General Services testified on behalf of County Executive Marc Elrich who stated his support of the bill.
“As a councilmember, the county executive co-sponsored the legislation to ensure transparency and a higher level of scrutiny when considering the disposition of public land,” he said. “The county executive supports the bill and amendments to the regulations as they further promote transparency.”
He also noted that Elrich had no concerns about the operational impacts of the bill or his ability to provide a reuse analysis for property-disposition matters in the future.
The bill was approved unanimously by the full council. Albornoz’s office confirmed that the legislation with take effect 91 days after it is signed by the county executive.