Commissioners Find The Red Tape Is Hard To Untangle

Despite More Meetings With Agencies, Government Still Inefficient

February 27, 1991|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

The third day of meetings added by the County Commissioners in December has not made government here work any better, the commissioners said yesterday.

Meetings with department heads are running long, some meetings are delayed and still many others are canceled, Commissioner Vice President Elmer C. Lippy Jr. said.

The result, they said, is inefficiency in the way the county doesbusiness.

"We are unsatisfied with the way the extra day has gone," Lippy said. "Everyday, there seems to be a backup. We need to lookat ways to manage staff meeting days more efficiently."

Carroll'sthree commissioners added a third meeting day after many people had complained that decision-making was hampered by an endless stream of delayed, canceled and rescheduled meetings.

But even with the third day -- the commissioners have staff meetings scheduled on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday -- Lippy and the other two have found that they still are bogged down.

"I've told the commissioners that time is their worst enemy," said Robert A. "Max" Bair, the commissioners' executive assistant since 1983. "We need to manage time a little bit better, to be a little more cognizant of time."

During an average week,the commissioners schedule about 45 meetings, most 15 minutes long, with department heads and agency directors. Often, those meetings runlong, no decisions are made and other meetings must be pushed back.

"Sometimes, these meetings just turn into a show-and-tell," Lippy said. "It is a little bit frustrating to have added this extra day, and to still have things back up into inefficiency."

Commissioner President Donald I. Dell was in Annapolis yesterday and could not be reached for comment. Commissioner Julia W. Gouge did not return phone calls yesterday.

Before 1983, the county commissioners used their assistant, George Grier, as a de facto county administrator. He met with department heads and controlled day-to-day activities, reporting back to the commissioners.

Former Commissioner President John L. Armacost, Commissioner Jeff Griffith and Commissioner William V. Lauterbach Jr. changed that when Grier retired, saying that having an appointed administrator running day-to-day activities had no legal basis.

Since then, some in Carroll's legislative delegation have called the system of brief staff meetings "government by paralysis." Also, amovement for a change in Carroll's commissioner form of government has been renewed as lawyers, developers and others have voiced concernthat the present type of government is inappropriate for a developing county.

The third day of staff meetings added by the current board of commissioners was to help alleviate backlogs and increase the amount of time spent on decision-making.

"The problems have become obvious to the commissioners over the last couple of weeks," Bair said.

Rather than schedule staff time for every department head every week, Bair envisions scheduling meeting time only when necessary.That, he said, would leave those directors who need more time with extra flexibility and more access.

Bair is meeting with directors Monday to discuss the changes.

What will not happen, Bair and Lippysaid, is the elimination of the third meeting day.

"That woulddefinitely be a step in the wrong direction," Bair said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.