Ocean City Today

Ted Elder ready for round four against Virgil Shockley

Incumbent will face former commissioner in repeat of ‘06, ‘10 and ‘14 elections
By Brian Gilliland | Feb 01, 2018
Ted Elder

(Feb. 2, 2018) What he calls the overall improvement of the state of county finances and the improved relationship between the Worcester County Commissioners and the Board of Education are the two highlights of Ted Elder’s first term as a commissioner, he said.

“We’ve accomplished a lot in three years,” Elder said.

When he was first elected in 2014 by defeating Virgil Shockley, who he had faced twice before in 2006 and 2010, Elder said he was shocked by the state of county finances.

“We were using savings funds to cover budget funds,” Elder said. “If we didn’t do something those funds would have run out, and we’d have a serious problem, because we were using it to stabilize normal operations.”

In fiscal 2018, the county budgeted a $1.67 million transfer from the stabilization fund to close a gap. The money from the stabilization fund is spent last, so the final amount won’t be available until the annual audit report is released, which is typically in December. Worcester has made similar transfers in years past.

The effects of lean budget years, caused in part by the 2008 financial meltdown, were also shocking to Elder.

“I was concerned with the condition of our roads and bridges, and the state of our equipment — some was falling apart,” he said. “People could only do their jobs for a couple of hours per day, there were welds on top of welds. There was a truck that was 30 years old we couldn’t get parts for.”

That equipment has since been replaced, he said.

“We’ve been working with the Board of Education, architects, parents, the Sheriff and others to change the design of Showell Elementary School to be safer and more conducive to learning,” Elder said. “We saved $10 million and I’m very proud of that.”

Elder said the sitting board of commissioners reconstituted teacher pay steps, and he was now looking for a way to increase county worker pay.

“I want to keep us operating in a fiscally responsible way, but hopefully we can get the steps back for county workers,” Elder said. “So many are at the poverty level or below and have been with us for years.”

The minimum wage is set to increase in July, and Elder said the county would have to increase some employee pay to comply with the new standard.

The schools are also going to need attention, Elder said, including capital projects like improved facilities and maintenance.

“I’m going to keep a close watch, but we have to get the students out of the portable classrooms,” he said. “When I looked over previous budgets they were in very bad shape — like a freight train heading toward a brick wall. We’ve been able to turn it around.”

Elder said he was looking forward to another clean contest with Shockley, and said they were both “upright men who stand for what they stand for.”

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