Monday, March 10, 2014 8:24 AM
Published on: Thursday, February 28, 2013
By Donna Broadway
WASHINGTON D.C. - Gaithersburg City Council Vice President Michael Sesma testified before Congress on February 15 about the ways cities like Gaithersburg can protect the environment.
Sesma spoke on behalf of the National League of Cities, a national organization that works with mayors and council members to further policy on issues including the environment, transportation, housing, health and human services, public safety, information technology and finances. Sesma, a member of the board of directors, also serves as chair of the energy, environment and national resources committee.
“Environmental degradation respects no political boundaries,” Sesma said to a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee. “Many local governments, including my city of Gaithersburg, are at the forefront of sustainability in planning, taking actions to make our communities vibrant places to live, work, learn and play.”
“He knows these issues very well and he is very familiar with the issues regarding water infrastructure and financing, and it helped that he was a local member that had the expertise and qualifications,” said Carolyn Berndt, the NLC’s principal associate for infrastructure and sustainability.
“I was glad to represent Gaithersburg and the National League of Cities. I wasn’t just there to represent my views but speak on behalf of cities like Gaithersburg,” Sesma said.
Sesma urged Congress to preserve the existing financing mechanisms for water infrastructure projects, including the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds that help fund three quarters of the country’s state and local government-built infrastructure projects, according to Berndt, and funding for Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund programs, which provides federal funding to states to distribute to local governments to upgrade the water structures.
“It’s about the financing mechanism but also about increasing awareness about the need of local aging infrastructure and what the financial burden is on governments to not only improve the aging infrastructures but to meet the mandates that come from the federal government,” Berndt said.
Sesma said Gaithersburg is continuing with environmental initiatives such as cultivating rain water.
“We have been very active in promoting sustainability in terms of the environment and energy. We do a lot of things to help the city and the resident as well,” he said.
Gaithersburg is a member city of NLC, which works with members of the Gaithersburg City Council on policy initiative.