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Sunday, April 15, 2012

O'Connor Takes Reasonable Approach to Budget

George Wenschhof

When I sat down to talk with City of Frederick, Maryland alderman Michael O'Connor (D), he indicated he would review by using a "is it reasonable" test when looking at budget requests.

Michael went on to tell me he "...was not looking to see smaller or larger government, but rather his goal was to have effective government."

Overall, O'Connor has liked how the process has unfolded this year and appreciated the opportunity for input aldermen had been given as Mayor Randy McClement (R) prepared his budget.

He was especially pleased it appeared consensus had been reached among the aldermen and the mayor to increase and forward fund street improvements, an area in the budget which had been hit hard in recent years as state funding had decreased during the downturn in the economy.

The move to a tax differential system from the tax equity program, was another change O'Connor was happy to see.  The change will result in city residents receiving a lower county tax bill and a slightly higher city tax bill.  However, overall city residents will receive a reduction of 4 cents from their current city tax rate.

Previously, city residents paid a full county rate for taxes and the county would reimburse the city for duplication of services. The alderman felt tax differential was a more fair system, but felt the formula used for determining duplication of services with the county still needed to be tweaked.

As to the underfunded pension and other post employment benefit programs, O'Connor wanted to see the committees appointed by the mayor provide suggestions after taking a systematic review and evaluation.  Although, some aldermen have criticized the mayor for not acting sooner on this problem, Michael said "slow is better than not moving at all."

In regard to the change from a part-time code enforcement position requested by the mayor to a full time position advocated by some of the aldermen, O'Connor wants to look at the overall cost, which would likely include benefits for a full time position.

The city plans to adopt the budget and set the tax rate during the May 17 mayor and board meeting.

A schedule for the public meetings scheduled on the budget follows below.  The meetings can also be viewed on local public TV channel 99 or watched online at

April 4th - 7:00 p.m.
• Department of Public Works

April 11th – 7:00 p.m.
• Police Department

April 18th – 7:00 p.m.
• Airport
• Economic Development,
• Weinberg Center,
• Parking,
• Facilities
• Community Action Agency

April 25th – 7:00 p.m.
• Engineering
• Planning
• Parks & Recreation

May 2nd – 7:00 p.m.
• Finance/Budget & Purchasing/Human Resources
• Legal
• Mayor’s Office

May 9th – 7:00 p.m.
• Open agenda


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