Gaithersburg officials come together on 2014 budget -- Gazette.Net


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Gaithersburg’s mayor, city council and department heads discussed the city’s upcoming budget priorities at a retreat at the Upcounty Senior Center on Monday evening.

Economic Development Director Tom Lonergan presented a few objectives for his department in fiscal 2014, including supporting the growth and success of businesses in Gaithersburg.

Councilmember Henry Marraffa said the city should assess the potential of the Montgomery County fairgrounds for a possible arena or future ties with businesses on Md. 355.

Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney Katz said the fairgrounds are privately owned and the owners are not looking to sell, but the city should start a dialogue with them.

A project Lonergan had pursued for fiscal 2013 included the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The city had planned to work with the government agency, the county and the state to develop a cybersecurity incubator.

Lonergan removed the item from the 2014 budget because there was a “good chance” the incubator would be created with little help from the city.

Attendees of the retreat also discussed the possibility of a new City Hall building. In the facilities budget, Public Works Director Jim Arnoult noted that the human resources and public information office sections on the second floor of the current City Hall need to be refurbished. City Manager Tony Tomasello said a new City Hall building would be a long-term project costing around $20 million.

The new building is on a list of currently unfunded capital improvement projects, which includes four parks, a new police station and a new senior center. Over the next few weeks, elected officials and city staff plan to decide which projects take top priority.

A few council members were ready to state their own priorities for the city’s unfunded capital improvement projects Monday evening, but Tomasello warned that each councilmember’s constituency would also need to weigh in on the projects.

“The difficult thing isn’t saying what is going to go forward,” Tomasello said. “The difficult thing is saying what isn’t.”

scarignan@gazette.net