Frederick’s Mayor, Aldermen Begin Budget Drafting Process

Elected officials discuss their priorities for the fiscal year 2019 spending plan.


Frederick, Md (KM). The first of several budget meetings was held Monday night at Frederick City Hall. During that time, the Aldermen were asked what they wanted to see in a spending plan for fiscal year 2019.

Elected officials were in agreement when it came to issues such as public safety and the Police Department, workforce diversity, attracting good quality jobs, the opioid crisis and sustainability.

Alderwoman Kelly Russell, whose a retired Frederick Police Officer, said she wants to see progress continue on the a new police headquarters. “While I realize that this is not a project in the CIP  {Capital Improvements Plan}  right now, it is a critical need if we are to provide the best service and safe service for our community,” she said.,

Russell also called for more opportunities for the city to use solar power and electric cars. In addition, she said the city’s workforce should be more diverse. “We really need to be a better job enhancing our workforce diversity and our volunteer diversity,” Russell said.

Her colleague, Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak, said she wants to see a different approach when it comes to addressing the opioid crisis. “Instead of extra police, I would like to see us possibly hire some social workers. Because I think that’s where we touch the opioid and other crises having to do with mental health,” she said. “I think drug addiction is a disease, and that’s how we should be treating it.”

Kuzemchak also says she wants to see more education and training not only for employees but citizens as well, and that includes working with  higher education institutions  in the area. She also said any tax cuts for businesses looking to move to  Frederick should be for specific reasons, such as hiring and training the local population.

Also offering his ideas for the budget was Alderman Ben MacShane. Just like Alderwoman Kuzemchak, he said law enforcement shouldn’t be the only agency tackling the opioid crisis. “I do think that it is mental health professionals, that it is social workers that need to be at the forefront for this,”: he said. MacShane also called for the city to support efforts to make child care more affordable.

Alderman Derek Shackelford says one of his priorities is a summer jobs program for youth. “I don’t think it’s enough to have after school program.. But we have youth in our city who are employee age, or able to work. I think the city has to make the investment in leading on a summer jobs program for our young people,” he said.

And Alderman Roger Wilson he wants to hire additional police officers to keep the city safe. “One of the comments I heard from a resident was that Frederick has a big asset in that is a safe community., and that is attractive for future residents and also businesses or employers who want to move to Frederick,” he said.

Budget and Purchasing Director Katie Barkdoll presented a fiscal year 2019 financial forecast to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen which  projects a 2-3% growth in revenues. The report also says salary  increases of 4% are expected for sworn officers with the Frederick Police Department, and 3% for civilian employees, based on historical analysis of actual pay increases and employee turnover. The financial forecast says there could be an 8% increase in health insurance, a 3% increase in pension and workers’ compensation insurance costs, and a 2% boost in supplies and professional service costs.

The financial projection does not include replacement of vehicles and equipment at a rate higher than what each budget fund can currently sustain; the development of the Westside Regional park; and costs associated with a new police headquarters.

As part of the budget-drafting process, Mayor Michael O’Connor will be putting together a proposed budget which is scheduled to be presented to the Board of Aldermen by April 1st.
By Kevin McManus