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Press Releases - County Council

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, May 15, 2012

ROCKVILLE, Md., May 15, 2012—The Montgomery County Council today voted 6-3 to override County Executive Isiah Leggett’s veto of Expedited Bill 11-12 that will make the Council a full partner in the disposition of County land and other assets. The bill requires Council approval, and encourages early collaboration, when the County Executive seeks to sell or lease county property.

The County Executive sent a memo to the Council on May 14 notifying it that he would use his veto power for the first time in his six years in office. The vote to override the veto was the first time since 2002 that the Council has voted to override the veto of a bill by an Executive.

At least six votes are required to override a veto. The vote today was the same as when the amended bill was approved by a 6-3 margin on May 1. Council President Roger Berliner, Vice President Nancy Navarro and Councilmembers Phil Andrews, Marc Elrich, George Leventhal and Hans Riemer voted to override the veto. Councilmembers Valerie Ervin, Nancy Floreen and Craig Rice voted to uphold the veto.

The Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee held two worksessions on the bill before reporting it to the Council. Public hearings were held on March 20 and March 27.

Expedited Bill 11-12 modifies the procedures for disposition of property that the County owns or controls. The bill requires the County Council to approve the sale or long-term lease of most County properties. Currently, the County Executive can unilaterally dispose of a property without the Council’s approval.

“As a substantial majority of this Council believed when we originally approved this bill, this law will benefit the public by ensuring that dispositions of land are executed in an open process,” said Council President Berliner. “As amended, this law will not impede the process of disposing of County property. This is about checks and balances, and it will make the disposal of County assets a more collective, collaborative process. This law will encourage the Executive Branch to consult the Council early in the process. This is about how the County Executive treats the Council as partners in the process, and if the County Executive does that, this will be a painless process.”

Councilmember George Leventhal, who was the chief sponsor of the bill, said: “This bill simply establishes that no one person has the sole authority to dispose of assets that belong to the public and that are worth millions of dollars. It provides a basic safeguard to ensure that property transactions are carried out in the public interest, now and in the future.”

The bill would apply to properties with an appraised value of $100,000 or more, with a few non-controversial exceptions.

Among the amendments to the bill reported by the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee that were adopted before the Council enacted the bill were:

· The bill would not apply to land that would be primarily developed with housing if 30 percent or more of the dwelling units would meet the County’s definition of “affordable.”

· When the Council is given the material terms of a proposed disposition to comment on, those terms will be kept confidential to the extent allowed by state law.

· The bill would not apply to legally enforceable agreements signed before the bill takes effect.

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Release ID: 12-099
Media Contact: Neil Greenberger 240-777-7939, Delphine Harriston 240-777-7931