MoCo Council President, Exec Wrangle Over Housing Aid
Long-simmering yet mostly unspoken tension between Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) and the County Council president has boiled over in a dispute over money to help first-time homebuyers.
In the calm of the council's summer recess, Leggett's team was taken aback by a sharply worded news release from Michael Knapp (D) accusing Leggett of dropping the ball on providing at least $500,000 in housing assistance funds.
Last year, Knapp and the council set aside the money so the county could participate in a state program, House Keys for Employees, which provides matching funds through private and public employers of up to $5,000 for down payments and closing costs. Gaithersburg and counties including Calvert, Charles, Frederick and St. Mary's participate in the program.
Knapp said in the statement that he has "continually urged" the executive to join the program but that Leggett "has not spent a nickel of the funds we have provided."
"There is no reason why our employees should be paying the price for the executive's inability to move forward with this program," he continued.
Leggett's housing chief, Rick Nelson, tells a different story. Yes, he said, Knapp raised the issue in May 2007, but a memo described some of the potential obstacles in starting the program and said the issue would be revisited after budget deliberations.
Nelson said that a meeting had been scheduled for last month to discuss the program with Knapp but that it was changed to next month. Nelson said he was surprised by the timing of Knapp's public venting.
"He was unhappy that it was an issue we couldn't take care of quickly, and I understand that," Nelson said. "But unfortunately, affordable housing is never easy, no matter what you are trying to do."
The statewide program would require legislation or approval by labor union leaders because it provides a benefit to county employees.
Posted by: Robin Ficker, Broker Robin Realty | August 20, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Citizen of Montgomery | August 20, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.