It might cost Darrel E. Drown a hefty chunk of change to take his seat on the Howard County Council next month.
Mr. Drown must give up his $67,000-a-year job as budget officer for the Howard County schools because the County Charter prohibits council members from holding a job with any agency that receives money from the county. The 39-year-old Republican will make $27,500 as a councilman after he is sworn in Dec. 3 -- a $39,500 pay cut.
But Mr. Drown, who defeated Democratic incumbent Angela Beltram to represent Ellicott City on the council, is taking his job loss in stride.
"I knew I had to make a little sacrifice for a career change," said Mr. Drown.
He said he had "a couple of irons in the fire" for obtaining work with a financial planning firm.
Mr. Drown had hoped to remain with the school system until June 30 to help prepare the school system's operating budget. But Charles A. Reese, attorney for the county election board and school system, said the County Charter prohibited council members from holding a job with "any agency, board, commission, unit or other entity which receives funds through the county budget."
Slightly more than half of the county's operating budget pays for educational expenses.
"It's a bad situation because we have to get the budget out, and I am the person responsible for doing it," said Mr. Drown.
School Superintendent Michael E. Hickey said that the resignation was coming "sooner than we hoped" but that his office was "pretty far along" in coming up with the budget request that will be made public in mid-December.
Once released, the superintendent's budget proposal will go to the school board for its review and then to the executive and council, which acts in late May. The school board gives final approval June 1.
Dr. Hickey said the school system was advertising for a replacement. He hopes to have someone appointed by the end of the year.
"Clearly, we do not want him to be in a conflict of interest," Dr. Hickey said.
Mr. Drown has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in financial planning, and he was the school system's budget officer for 11 years. Before that, he taught mathematics in the county school system.
The County Charter was amended in 1988 to clarify the wording on qualifications for council members and county officials. But yesterday's opinion was not the first time the issue had surfaced.
Several years ago, Mr. Reese is sued an opinion that Councilman C. Vernon Gray, a political science professor at Morgan State University, was qualified to sit on the council because his position with the state was "not an office of profit" as defined by the Maryland Constitution and County Charter.
Mr. Reese reached the same conclusion when Paul R. Farragut, D-4th, was appointed to the County Council last year. Mr. Farragut is an employee of the Maryland Port Administration.
Serving on the County Council is considered a part-time job, although some members work long hours.