Government Liaison Seen As Too Costly

February 24, 1991|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

SYKESVILLE — The idea of a consultant to keep town officials in greater touch with the County Commissioners got a chilly reception during a meeting ofthe Maryland Municipal League's Carroll chapter here last week.

The consultant -- called a municipal agent -- would act as a liaison with the commissioners and the rest of the county government, serving as part lobbyist, part press spokesman and part administrator.

But, say some of the 42 municipal and county officials at Fergies Restaurant Friday, the consultant would merely cost more money when budgets already are tight.

"I'm not so sure that now is the time to experiment with the taxpayers' money," said Taneytown Councilman Henry C. Heine Jr.

The idea for a consultant was first brought up inDecember. Supporters of hiring a consultant include Sykesville MayorLloyd R. Helt Jr., Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown and HampsteadManager John A. Riley.

The municipal agent would be based in the County Office Building, and would work 15 to 20 hours a week. The expected cost -- about $18,000 a year -- would be paid for by the eight towns.

The cost to each town is expected to be about 80 cents per resident; Westminster, with about 13,000 people, would pay $10,400, the largest amount; New Windsor, with about 840 people, would pay $672.

About one-fourth of Carroll's residents live in municipalities.

The Mount Airy Town Council has voted against creating the position; town councils throughout Carroll will consider the idea in meetings between now and April.

Even if the league's members can't come up with the money during fiscal 1992, Brown said the idea should not be allowed to die.

"I think it would be wrong to reject the idea out of hand," he said. "What we have now certainly does not work ideally."

What the towns have now is a quarterly mayors meeting with theCounty Commissioners. Many towns have criticized the relationship astoo brief and too distanced.

Others think it is up to the electedmayors -- paid anywhere from $600 to $10,000 a year -- to improve that relationship.

"We're already paying mayors for similar services," Taneytown Mayor Henry Reindollar said. "Why pay someone else to dowhat mayors already are obligated to do?"

The consultant idea surfaced after many Carroll town officials said they had not been informed rapidly enough about last year's doubling of landfill dumping feesto $15 a ton.

When the increase was first announced last year, towns had already prepared their preliminary budgets. Town officials scrambled to change their budgets to accommodate those increases, and many were forced to raise taxes.

The league chapter is expected to vote on the municipal agent question at its meeting in April. The Prince George's County chapter is the only one in the state that has a municipal agent.

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