Contact: Audrey Fix Schaeferfor I.M.P.301-947-1133 Audrey@schaefer.comMontgomery County, Maryland Sued over illegal funding of Silver Spring Music Hall
BETHESDA, MD. Sept. 2 -- The Montgomery County, MD, Administration has been suedby Bethesda, MD-based I.M.P. over illegal funding of the Silver Spring music hall. Theillegal funding is the latest in a series of clandestine moves that have been discoveredin the Administration’s activities to build the Silver Spring music hall without followingproper procedures as detailed in the lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed in the Anne ArundelCounty Circuit Court as part of a lawsuit against the State of Maryland.
LAWSUIT ALLEGATIONS CONCERNING MONTGOMERY COUNTY
The lawsuit states that The County’s Chief Administrative Officer told the CountyCouncil that the County would not spend a penny more than $4 million on the musichall and that all costs were capped at $8 million. To assure that no additional Countyfunds would be spent without further approval by the County Council, anAgreement between the developer LDG Inc and the County states several times that the County must obtain council approval to use more County funds on the project. TheCounty has failed to seek the contractually required appropriation and therefore lacks the appropriate funds necessary to pay for the project. Under the terms of theAgreement, the project may not begin until the County Council through a budgetaryappropriation approves all necessary funds. The Agreement further states that onceconstruction begins, the County is liable for millions of dollars in damages to LDG Inc.should an unacceptable condition, such as improper funding, stop the project.
COUNTY HIDES CONSTRUCTION COSTS
The County has yet to release to the County Council or the Maryland General Assembly the construction budget for the project. Documents produced solely in response to asubpoena in this lawsuit reveal that the County has known since 2008 that theconstruction estimates for the music hall exceeded $8 million. In other words, theCounty knew the price tag was millions of dollars more than the $8 million cap when it testified before the County Council in March 2008 seeking approval for $ 4 million andpromised that the County would never pay a penny more. Knowing the project wasmillions of dollars over budget, the Administration nonetheless denied to the CountyCouncil there would be a cost overrun. In addition, the County consistently refused toproduce construction cost documents to the Maryland General Assembly despiteseveral specific requests for the documents and a statutory requirement to providesuch documents.A cost overrun of $3.2 million was revealed on August 10, 2010in lawsuit documents. In short, the Administration hid the cost overrun fromlegislators and the public for more than two years. Most significant, the documentsrevealing the cost overrun were produced just after the Montgomery County Councilrecessed for the next seven weeks.The Administration’s deliberate failure to provide construction costs figures is anattempt to avoid the necessary legislative hearings to appropriate the additional fundsbecause the Administration intends to avoid public discussion, debate, and perhapscensure regarding the handling of this project.