Spending $28,000 on a lobbyist in 2012 might help save Frederick much more money than that and keep the city better advised about what goes on in the General Assembly, some city officials say.
But a lobbyist might not be needed at all, Alderwoman Karen Young wrote in an email to Mayor Randy McClement.
Young and the other aldermen will discuss hiring a legislative consultant for 2012 during their workshop Wednesday. McClement suggests hiring Greenwill Consulting Group LLC.
He said he likes their experience in both state and national legislative matters.
Greenwill registered lobbyist Ivan Lanier would do the job, according to Josh Russin, McClement's executive assistant. Lanier has 10 years of bipartisan lobbying experience and has represented the interests of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce, Alcoa Eastalco and the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Coalition, according to Greenwill.
The aldermen are scheduled to vote Thursday whether to amend the fiscal 2012 budget to pay $28,000 for Greenwill's consulting services, effective Jan. 11 to Aug. 11, according to Russin. If approved, the money would come from last fiscal year's fund balance.
The timing would allow Greenwill to work during the three-month state session, which begins Jan. 11, and the 112th U.S. Congress.
Young told McClement this week she is not ready to support the expense. She said the Maryland Municipal League fulfills most such needs, and city officials can do the rest.
Alderwoman Carol Krimm said she generally approves of hiring a lobbyist and the proposed $28,000 cost. Krimm, who is on Delegate Galen Clagett's staff, said the General Assembly's pace in Annapolis is such that no one representative can keep track of every issue that might affect the city.
Krimm and Young serve on the municipal league's legislative affairs committee, whose role is to educate state legislators about municipal concerns. They testified to the assembly 10 times during the 2011 session, and Young told McClement that the league performs the services requested of Greenwill.
Krimm said Frederick County, Rockville and Gaithersburg have either lobbyists or staff dedicated to legislative affairs. They spend from $40,000 to more than $100,000 a year on legislative services, Russin said.
"We all work hard," Krimm said, referring to Frederick's senators and delegates, but a lobbyist can keep an eye on even more. "That could be somebody else to work on our team."
At the federal level, Krimm said it would help if the consultant could get the Federal Aviation Administration to pay the city millions of dollars it has promised sooner rather than later. The FAA is waiting for the city to make changes to leases at Frederick Municipal Airport before repaying $13.6 million the city paid for land to extend the airport's runway, Krimm said.
City taxpayers are paying about $615,000 in debt service through 2013 on money borrowed to pay for the land, she said.
The necessary lease changes will be complete by the end of 2012, Krimm and Russin said. When the FAA pays the city back, Frederick can cut its debt payments and put itself on a footing to take advantage of a rebounding economy, Krimm said.
"We are in a great position," Krimm said. "We don't want anything dragging us down."
One of the leases is with the Maryland State Police, and changing it to the market rate as the FAA requires will take state action. Greenwill could help with that, according to Russin.
Young, who is married to state Sen. Ron Young, told McClement that the city has relationships with state representatives and executives that are just as strong as Lanier's.