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Almond: Council Has Questions About $25M Pension Loan

Council Chairwoman hopes to get answers in next couple of weeks before loan deal is consummated.

Baltimore County Council Chairwoman Vicki Almond says she has a few questions about a $25 million loan from the county pension system to pay for a new recycling facility.

But any answers she might have she's keeping to herself for the time being.

"I'd prefer not to comment," Almond, a Reisterstown Democrat, said Monday night following a council legislative session.

"The council is still looking at this issue," Almond said. "I just want to wait until we get some answers."

Almond confirmed that she was briefed on the loan after the council's July 31 work session. She declined to say what was discussed in the meeting with County Administrative Officer Fred Homan, and attended by some other senior council staff.

The Baltimore County Employees Retirement System board of trustees voted July 10 to approve a $25 million loan to the county to pay for a new recycling facility at the Texas Landfill in Cockeysville.

The county expects that facility will generate $200,000 a month from the processing and sale of recyclable materials from the county and other jurisdictions. The county has not provided the council nor the board with details on the business model or how it expects to meet those revenue goals.

Homan is a member of the board and sought the loan from the retirement system on behalf of the county. Four department heads who answer directly to Homan are also on the board.

The $2 billion pension system is 77 percent funded, according to recent county estimates.

Details of the loan, including whether or not the county is selling the Certificate of Participation bonds to the pension system, and under what authorization Homan had to make the deal are just some of the issues that Almond said she wanted addressed.

"I hope to have those answers in a few weeks," Almond said.

Almond said that she hasn't received and assurances the county would not complete the loan before she was more fully briefed.

When asked what was to stop the county from completing the loan before briefing her, Almond smiled and said: "No comment."

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sarah issa August 10, 2012 at 02:31 AM
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Buzz Beeler August 10, 2012 at 04:46 AM
I don't understand Ms. Almond's line of thought on this one. "I hope to have those answers in a few weeks," Almond said. In a few weeks! She is the chairwoman of the council and could call the major players before the council and get to the bottom of this. There are at least two issues, on is the charter and the other is ethics including the Mainsail in which the council remained silent. She has the opportunity to show leadership and all we get is no comment.
moe green August 10, 2012 at 09:59 AM
follow the miney. and almond has to clear all her actions with jim smith.
Buzz Beeler August 10, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Moe, here's a chance to exhibit some real leadership and set herself apart as a take charge type and as in the past it's the same old response and dodging with no comment and it will take weeks to get an answer. In the Mainsail mess they lost almost a million a day. In the Mainsail deal not a peep from the council, no demand for an investigation, no special sessions to investigate. There was plenty there to call for an inquiry into this matter. You had issues with the charter as well as ethical ones. All you have to do is read the darn thing. As I keep repeating myself it all boils down to leadership. Why doesn't she bring the whole issue in front of the council (they have the power) and demand answers. We're not talking national security here, were talking about the peoples business and a one man wrecking ball in the name of Fred Homan. It now appears that they are all afraid of him. Come on Ms. Almond you are the chairwoman so act like one and dispel the rumors your were chosen because they felt you were easier to control.

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