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Friday, August 14, 2009

Wenschhof Interviews City of Frederick, Md. Alderman Candidate Carol Krimm

George Wenschhof

Today, my guest is Carol Krimm. She is running for the office of Alderman in the upcoming City of Frederick, Maryland election. There are nine Democratic candidates who will appear on the primary ballot on September 15. Democratic voters will choose five of the nine to move on to the general election on November 3.

Ms. Krimm and I are communicating via computer from different locations within the city. I have not shared the questions with her beforehand so this discussion is live online. Because it is live, remember to click on your computer "Refresh" button every fifteen minutes so you can see the more recent question and answer.

Do not worry if you miss the live interview for I will place a link to it in the right hand margin of my Home Page. This will allow for you and others to read at a time convenient to you.

I met Carol for the first time some years ago when she was working for state delegate Sue Hecht. After Sue Hecht ran unsuccessfully against state senator Alex Mooney in 2002, Carol was able to retain her legislative position, when Galen Clagett was elected as state delegate and retained her in the same position.

She is also currently a member of the Frederick County State Democratic Central Committee.

At this time, I would like to welcome Carol Krimm as my guest on Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof.

GW - Carol, you have worked for elected officials for some time. What made you decide to run for Alderman. Also, tell the voters a little more about yourself and let them know if you have a favorite for mayor and why.
CK - Thank you George for offering this service to the voters. I was born and raised in Cumberland, MD. My husband of thirty-seven years and I have lived in Frederick for nearly 30 years. We raised our two children here – Jennifer Boothe and Kevin Krimm. We also have two adorable grandchildren.
I am a former Girl Scout leader, Babe Ruth Baseball board member, and worked with the PTA while my children were in public school. I am also active in my NAC – NAC 7.
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I play golf, tennis, and bridge.
I have a MBA degree from Frostburg State University and paralegal certificate from the University of Maryland. I am currently legislative staff for Delegate Galen Clagett. I have worked in this position for seven years. Previous to my working for Delegate Clagett, I worked in the same position with Delegate Sue Hecht.
For the past ten years I have served the citizens of Frederick as legislative staff for Delegate Clagett and Delegate Hecht. I am involved in discussions and decisions regarding most issues and challenges facing Frederick’s citizens. I bring with me to the Aldermanic position contacts resulting from 10 years of networking with state and federal elected partners, and the business community.
I began my campaign focused on the issue of tax equity. I testified at city and county budget hearings. I challenged the BOCC about their decision to cut the city’s tax equity and then followed-up at subsequent workshops and meetings. During one BOCC tax rate hearing, I requested the city and county move to a tax differential instead of the current tax rebate system to the municipalities. In this way the city taxpayers will receive a lower county tax rate directly instead of that money coming to the municipality. After the BOCC initially cut all of the city’s tax equity this year, I was a catalyst for the city receiving most of its tax equity reimbursement from the county this year.
After the city and county budget hearings were completed, I started meeting voters door to door. My message about city property taxpayers subsidizing county property taxpayers because we pay the same tax rate and then pay our city taxes in addition resonates with voters. My plan to fix this inequity in the law begins with state legislation that stabilizes the Frederick County tax equity program so the BOCC can no longer cut this important city revenue source. Then I propose using my statewide contacts and experience in government to align our state land use policy with property tax policy. Our state land use policy is Smart Growth which means we encourage people to live within a municipality where infrastructure is in place. But when people buy property in the municipality they have an extra property tax burden.
We need to remove that extra tax burden by passing legislation that mandates a tax equity statutory formula that will put city property on equal footing with property located outside the city limits. Municipalities in Frederick County and across the state are looking for leadership on this issue. Frederick is the largest municipality within a county in the state. We should provide leadership on statewide municipal issues beginning with tax equity.
In addition to my work on the tax issue I think we need to restore fiscal responsibility to city government. We will be facing tough budget years for the foreseeable future. The record decline in state revenue will be felt by local government.
We need to get our fiscal house in order now. I propose having a budget review as soon as the new Mayor and Board take office. We may need a budget reconciliation by making cuts before this current fiscal year ends.
We need more transparency in fiscal matters. This year the NACs requested a budget briefing where questions could be asked in an informal setting and responded to by staff and BOA. Taxpayers want to know how their tax dollars are being spent. This message is coming through loud and clear in my meeting voters going door to door.
My work on the Land Management Code (LMC) Work Group gives me an in-depth perspective on land use issues involving city planning staff, planning commission, development community, elected officials, and citizen representatives like myself. Working with this group has heightened my interest in serving on the Board of Aldermen.
There are other issues that face our neighborhoods especially our older neighborhoods like the neighborhood where I live – Fredericktowne Village. Residential overcrowding, maintenance of streets, and oversize vehicle parking are some of these issues. These issues have been unresolved for quite some time.
I am running because I have a sense of civic duty with my experience, knowledge and background living and volunteering in the community for nearly 30 years and working with our state delegates for the past 10 years. I know I can make a difference by improving our quality of life here in Frederick.
As you mentioned, I a member of the Democratic State Central Committee so we do not endorse candidates before the primary. But I will be able to work with any candidate the voters choose.
GW - Voters want to know that when they elect an Alderman, they will have an ally on their behalf representing their interests and not someone who is a rubber stamp for policies presented by the mayor.

The Early Retirement Buy-Out mess which was approved under the current administration is an example. First, tell the voters how you would have voted had you been presented with a plan that provided two years of pay and allowed for rehires of the employees.

Second, how will you assure the voters, you will always be vigilant on their behalf in your votes as
an alderman?
CK - With all of us having 20-20 hindsight the early retirement buy-out was a poor decision by the current Board of Aldermen. I would not have supported the buy-out package. The two year payout is a significant amount of money for a public servant and the impact on the current budget years would have raised a red flag. I would have questioned the re-hiring of retired employees because in state government we need special legislation to permit a rehire of retirees.
To prevent a similar situation we need to adopt a more transparent and early sharing of information by city government. Aldermen should have background materials prepared by staff for making decisions available to them several days before a meeting. There should be ample time to read the information and make inquiries if needed. I support making available all materials staff prepares for the Aldermen to the citizens prior to a Mayor and Board meeting.
GW - Public safety is always an issue of concern for voters. Frederick Police Chief Kim Dine is recognized as having done an excellent job with the funding he has received from the city budget.

The national and worldwide economic situation would indicate future city budgets under the new mayor and board of aldermen will be lean. First, would you support the building of a new police station in the immediate future or do you believe a sub-station or two may serve the community in a better cost effective manner?

Also, community policing appears to have been proven effective in reducing crime in cities across the country. Are there other funding sources you would encourage the city to pursue to aid in funding additional police officers?
CK - Yes I support a new headquarters for the city police. They are existing in cramped quarters now and it is clear they have outgrown their space. It is true there are some lean budget years coming. Police aid from state government may be cut. We have to prepare to weather the recession. Public safety is priority funding for me. It is the most important obligation we have in the budget. Chief Dine has done a great job working with the NACs and improving communication with the community. He has utilized current technology to advance his community policing techniques. I visited NAC 8 in June and were told of the significant challenges in the Hillcrest neighborhood.
After hearing about these issues, I recalled a new program of the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) that addressed similar issues in Annapolis. It is called Capital City Safe Streets. As a result of this program, Annapolis saw a 32% decrease in crime. I got in touch with the GOCCP and found out grant funding may be available to replicate this program. I then communicated this information to Chief Dine. I will also attend a best practices meeting in September about the program. We need to be aware of programs offering grant funding to help supplement the police budget here.
GW - As we know, due to the economic recession, the new mayor and board will have the difficult job of preparing and approving annual budgets during the next term.

I noticed on your campaign website;, you have several ideas you feel will help in this area. You also mentioned this earlier when you were talking about why you decided to run for office. Tell the voters a little more about your idea of a quarterly budget review which you feel will help create a more efficient city government.
CK - The city charter states that funds should be released quarterly to city agencies to fund their programs. I am taking that one step further by doing a quarterly budget review. We should have an open discussion with department heads about whether their budgets are over or under funded and whether programs are effective. Citizens want to know the financial health of the city. A budget is only projection. State government is suffering major budget deficits because of the economic recession. I support an ongoing dialog with citizens, department heads, and other elected officials about the city's fiscal health that will lead to more open government and more transparency.
GW - I now want to talk about the Frederick Historic District and the Historic Preservation Committee (HPC). Both have recently received headlines due to one case in which current Mayor Jeff Holtzinger allegedly instructed staff to disregard a fine levied by the HPC on a property owner.

The designated Historic district has been a huge benefit for the city and the HPC has performed well over the years with periodic public spats over decisions they made.

First, do you feel the mayor should have intervened in this situation when a property owner can seek a remedy to a questionable decision by filing an appeal? Second, do you have any suggestions as to how to improve the approval process by the HPC on properties undergoing rehabilitation within the district?
CK - Our Historic District is admired within and outside our community. I often hear from people who have visited Frederick about the charm and walkable historic area of downtown Frederick. The Historic District is vitally important to our city, the tourism industry, and downtown business.
The Historic District’s purpose is to safeguard the historical and cultural heritage of the city by preserving sites, structures, or districts; stabilize and improve property values in the district; strengthen the local economy; and promote the preservation and appreciation of such sites within the district. The Historic Preservation Commission is tasked with carrying out that purpose. The commission should work with property owners who wish to alter their property to formulate an economically feasible plan to complete the alteration that is in accordance with the purpose of the Historic District.
The Mayor should not veto decisions of the HPC. The integrity of our process and public confidence in the process is damaged by a veto without public scrutiny. I support a discussion of all stakeholders about adopting architectural standards for the district. In this way property owners will have a good idea about what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in the district when the owner decides to alter or modify the property. I also support the HPC and stakeholders reviewing other cities’ historic district ordinances to ascertain whether there are better ways to achieve the purpose of our historic district.
GW - Let's move on to the three farms presently being considered for annexation into the city by the current mayor and board of aldermen.

Voters are concerned in regard to these annexations as the current infrastructure supporting the city is behind current development. Some feel these annexations are premature and at the least, the decision should be left to the next mayor and board.

Tell the voters your position on these annexations and if you support this decision being delayed a few months until the next mayor and board take office.

CK - If the current annexations are not voted on by the current Board before their term ends then the process will start over for all of the proposed annexations. I do not believe this process has been rushed. There has been a process that has been followed with workshops and hearing before the Planning Commission and workshops and hearings before the Mayor and Board of Aldermen. The public has had several opportunities to provide comment.

However, one step in this process that definitely should not be rushed is the negotiation of the annexation agreements for the proposed annexations. The annexation agreement will spell out the responsibilities of the developer when the city agrees to annex the property. Before I pass judgment on any of the proposed annexations I would want to review the annexation agreement.

Growth should be smart, balanced and consistent with our long term comprehensive plan. The properties to the north will not be developed for quite some time. The Thatcher property is offering an economic development opportunity for jobs in the future. There is no residential development proposed for this property. Frederick’s unemployment rate has climbed steadily recently. In April the rate was 5.8%, May 6.2%, and June 6.6%, That is well below the national average but very much cause for concern.

I listened to the public comment for all the proposed annexations and the main objection was public safety specifically traffic. I don’t think we should wait for these properties to be developed to address this important public safety concern. I think we should deal with those traffic concerns now. For Route 15, especially in the area at Hayward Road, I support putting in place a gradual reduction in the speed limit. This proposal is not unusual for a major route that goes through an urbanized area. We should utilize and improve the service road parallel to Route 15 for Crumland Farms to help with traffic from this development.

I have the most questions about the Summers annexation- the impact of that community on the existing neighborhood. But in a new process that will offer thorough vetting by a Planning Commission with some new members and a Board of Aldermen with new members those questions will be addressed.

Annexation is only one part of our growth picture. Infill development is as important to our future growth needs as annexation. The Land Management Code Work Group, of which I am a member, in conjunction with the Downtown Frederick Partnership is bringing forward a proposal for infill development in the Carroll Creek Overlay and the Frederick Historic District, National Register. The proposal will reduce a barrier for developing underutilized land within this district.

The proposal waives the parkland requirement for new applications in this area and establishes a fee for parkland maintenance. The premise for this proposal is that we have adequate parkland in the downtown area – Carroll Creek and Baker Park. It is hard to justify a $10,400 per unit as a parkland fee that has turned out to be an impediment to infill projects moving forward. We heard about a property where the parkland fee to develop was more than the actual cost of the land. In its place, with the approval of the Parks and Recreation Commission, we are establishing a parkland maintenance fee in the amount of $1000 per unit that will be used to maintain the parks in the district.

It is easy to talk about infill development. But until you know the barriers as to why infill is not pursued more aggressively and act to remove those barriers talk is just rhetoric. I am very happy to have testified in support of this proposal before the Mayor and Board and also the Parks and Recreation Commission.


GW - Carol, we are now to your last question and it relates to the previous question on the proposed annexations as well as future planned growth.

You discuss environmental sustainability on your campaign website You point out electricity and potable water is two necessities in life. Tell the voters your ideas of how to conserve these valuable resources while planning for the future.

CK - Water is our most important resource. I am a staff contributor on the final report of the Advisory Committee on the Management and Protection of the State's Water Resources (2008). Our current water needs are being met by the Potomac River pipeline. However there are flow by requirements. I believe we should partner with MDE, other jurisdictions in Central and Western Maryland and the private sector to complete the Fractured Rock Study. This study area is everything west of the fall line - the fall line being I-95. We need to know for the future how much water we have and where it is located. Nobody wants to return to the days of the 1999 and 2002 drought. The study will provide planners and policy makers a sound basis for how much water is available for future growth.

The State of Maryland is predicting power shortages or brown-outs within the next three years because of high demand. To avoid power shortages we need to conserve, use renewable energy sources, and build new generation. Energy efficient operations are important in our conservation efforts. I suppport applying for grants to provide energy efficiency for government buildings and help for senior citizens who cannot provide energy efficient upgrades to their homes. ARRA or federal stimulus funds may be available for this purpose. The Mayor should appoint an Alderman "stimulus czar" to investigate and work with city staff to apply for all stimulus funding the city may be entitled.


GW - Carol, I have enjoyed our conversation today and want to thank you again for being my guest on Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof. At this time, I would like to give you some time for some closing remarks.

CK - Thanks again George. I enjoyed our session. It is always nice to discuss the issues with someone who has your background and experience.

I am asking voters to vote for me because I offer excellent credentials with my education, experience, knowledge, and community involvement. I am the candidate who appeared in public hearings before the county commissioners and challenged their decision to cut our tax equity reimbursement. I have a specific plan to fix our tax equity formula and a method to accomplish it.

I have lived in Frederick for nearly 30 years and served the Frederick community for 10 years as legislative staff for our state delegates. During that 10 year period I addressed many constituent concerns, help secure bond bill funding for Frederick projects, and worked on legislation affecting the Frederick community. I will continue to utilize my contacts within state and federal government to continue to serve the Frederick community.

And finally I am asking visitors to your site, who are registered voters, to vote on September 15th. Many voters are not aware that their polling place has changed except for Talley Rec Center voters. Voters received their voter identification cards in the mail recently. Two polling places are listed – one for state and one for municipal voting. We will be using the municipal voting site this year. Check it before you vote.

Thank you to everyone who took their time to view George’s site today.


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