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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Aloi Wants To Get Fiscal House in Order

George Wenschhof

Shelley Aloi
Republican Shelley Aloi told me The City of Frederick is her hometown and that as mayor she would focus on “public safety and getting the fiscal house in order”.

Shelley said she had traveled around the world and had come back because Frederick is so great she wanted to ensure it continues to be a wonderful hometown for other families for generations to come.

Shelley shared with me she never thought she would be in politics and that prior to running and being elected alderman, she had traveled the world helping people in need.

She had worked in a soup kitchen in Atlanta, a para church organization “Christmas of Service” in Amsterdam where she helped homeless, drug addicts and prostitutes, and had spent three months in Germany providing humanitarian aid.

Upon returning home, Shelley attended the 2008-2009 Leadership Frederick County” class and it was during the state and local government day portion of the class, she decided “this would be a natural next step in serving people”.

She ran for alderman in the 2009 city election and came in third of the five aldermen elected.  She was most proud of the way the board of aldermen, on the most part, have worked well together and although they often have different viewpoints and perspectives, they have been respectful of one another.

As Mayor, Aloi intends to focus on everyone from children to senior citizens to provide a quality of life everyone enjoys.

When it came to public safety, Aloi said she intends to provide adequate resources for police technology, educational initiatives to support strategic policing and promote community policing.  Newly hired Police Chief Thomas Ledwell would also be retained under her administration.

Aloi was especially critical of Mayor Randy McClement on his handling of the underfunded city Pension and Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) programs.

Shelley felt the mayor did not have this as a priority and as a result, the city unfunded actuarial accrued liability for the pension, grew from $62.5 million in fiscal year 2010 to $100 million in fiscal year 2014.

With OPEB, Aloi said the city changed the way calculations were done, resulting in a reduced unfunded liability “on paper” from $128 million to $104 million.

Aloi sent me a follow up email after my interview where she said “I also fault Randy McClement for his negotiations along with Kelly Russell, Michael O’Connor and Carol Krimm for their votes obligating city taxpayers to cover 100% of retiree healthcare costs for all sworn employees hired before January 1, 2010. This is a future cost for which no financial projections were completed. A straight line estimate without an actuarial analysis makes this as much as a $44 million dollar obligation. We do not have the money to pay for this promise.”

In addition, Aloi said the mayor has touted the city reaching a level of 80% funding in twenty years, but left out the city would be contributing $7.5 million each year (for the amortization portion only) over the next twenty years.

Economic development would be another focus for Aloi, as mayor, and she quickly pointed to the importance of the city moving to Phase II of the Carroll Creek project.

She again criticized Mayor McClement for almost letting $3 million in state funding go away because he had not secured local matching funds.  Aloi said she, aldermen Carol Krimm and Karen Young scrambled to first; urge the mayor not to send the money back and second; secure the necessary matching funding for the project.

Aloi said the lease negotiation of city owned Harry Grove Stadium was also handled poorly by the mayor.  She did not understand why one of the most valuable parts of the contract “the naming rights for the stadium” was not included in the original negotiation.

Aloi would also like to help the growth of small business in the city which she feels is hampered by rules that are too onerous and costs too high to do business in the city.

Alderman Aloi will face Mayor Randy McClement and former mayor Jeff Holtzinger in the Republican primary.

The Democratic mayoral primary will include alderman Karen Young, Maryland state delegate Galen Clagett and Carol Hirsch.

Former mayor Jennifer Dougherty is running as an unaffiliated candidate and will not have an opponent in the primary election.

The City of Frederick primary election will be held on September 10.

Stay tuned.
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