Baltimore County voters will have so many ballot questions to contend with on Election Day, that to expect them to complete their chore in the allotted seven minutes is "unrealistic," said county Elections Board Administrator Doris Suter.
In addition to deciding on candidates for state and county offices and three state constitutional amendments, county voters will have 20 questions to read and decide on Nov. 6.
There are 10 bond issues, worth $200 million in borrowing authorization. There are also 10 amendments on the county charter, including the controversial referendum question that proposes a 2 percent cap on property tax revenue increases.
The first nine charter amendments, all relatively minor, were created by a commission that met earlier this year. The commission and County Council rejected some more significant changes that had been debated, such as whether to lift the two consecutive term limit for county executives, and whether to expand the County Council or have the council president elected county-wide.
Those that remain would:
* Give the County Council the power to authorize more deputy zoning commissioners as the work load rises. Currently, there is one commissioner and one deputy, both appointed.
* Require cooperation between the County Council auditor and outside hired auditors who do annual examinations of county finances.
* Delete obsolete language from two charter provisions. Questions M and N are both basically housekeeping amendments, County Attorney Arnold E. Jablon said.
* Repeal binding arbitration for firefighters, which was approved by the voters in a 1982 referendum, but was later ruled illegal by the Maryland Court of Appeals.
* Bring the charter language on the county's ethics and conflict ++ of interest laws into line with current legislation already in use.
* Allow the county executive to hire staff outside the county merit system based on money provided for the purpose in the budget by the County Council. Again, this provision would bring charter language in line with current practice.
* Allow the council to expand the county Board of Appeals from its current seven members to as many as 14, depending on need and budget.
* Change the way County Council vacancies are filled so that members of the party state central committee within the vacant council district will make the choice, not the committee for the entire county.