The song goes "No man is an island, no man stands alone." The same could be said for political subdivisions.
All of the counties in Maryland share some of the same problems and we need to share solutionsas well. We need to speak across the fences of our border lines and talk with our neighbor to the east, Baltimore County, and our neighbor to the west, Frederick and beyond.
The Carroll County Board of Commissioners understands this need to exchange dialogue. They understand that Carroll does not and shouldnot function in a vacuum.
The continuation of the county's membership in the Baltimore Regional Council of Governments has been a boneof contention since the first date of membership.
In 1983, the county's delegation of state legislators even attempted to withdraw Carroll from BRCOG. The commissioners overrode that proposal by a 2-1 vote.
Recently the suggestion was made to join forces with FrederickCounty and begin a new regional council. This suggestion has been made in the past and I have never heard from anyone what Frederick has responded to such a proposal. But the point should be made that Carroll has little in common with one of the other counties being considered for membership in such a new regional government council.
The other members being considered are Washington, Howard and Montgomery counties. Now just what does Carroll have -- or want to have -- in common with Montgomery County? A council with this jurisdiction would bepointless and less than cost-effective.
If an agreement could be made with Frederick and Washington counties for the disposal of recycled materials this type of co-op would have a mutually beneficial conclusion. This may be the first step in other mutually beneficial arrangements.
However the problems Carroll has experienced in recent years -- sprawling growth, the need for increased water, shifting population, the need for increased police protection, and changing and growing school populations -- could be better addressed by our continuing membership in the Baltimore Regional Council of Governments.
The other members of the BRCOG -- Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Harford and Howard counties, and Baltimore City -- all have faced some or all of these problems in recent years. They are all in the position to sharewith us the benefit of their collective knowledge. But this collective knowledge is only one benefit of membership in the BRCOG. More importantly is the impact that Carroll will have on all future planning for this region.
Population is moving to Carroll from these other member counties, not from our west.
The other side of this pictureis the redrawing of legislative districts and how this will affect Carroll.
The idea that Carroll can or will be a legislative district unto itself is short-sighted. Only Baltimore County and Baltimore City have ever had the political clout to arrange such legislative districts.
Even Montgomery and Prince George's counties have been forced to accept Howard County into one of each of their legislative districts. If Carroll cannot be a legislative district in and of itself,then we should be aligned with the political jurisdiction with whichwe have the most in common, and this includes governmental associations.
Also remember that the population count arrived at by the U.S. Census Bureau is divided by 47, the number of legislative districtsin this state. The number produced by this division will become the average number of constituents in each legislative district.
The county for each district will begin in Garrett County, the westernmostcounty, and proceed east. Using this method Carroll has an even greater chance of being included with Baltimore County -- not being a district alone.
It's far past time for our commissioners and our Annapolis delegation to meet and discuss the future governmental affiliations for Carroll.
It is time for them to agree on the future direction for our county. One of the first decisions should be the continued membership in the BRCOG. Next should be the unified efforts to be made for upcoming redistricting.
Although many Carroll countians would like to see our county retain its rural character, you cannot block the borders and keep out new residents. With the new residents will come new ideas, new needs and even new wants from government.
Interstate 795 brought changes faster than many of us would have wanted, expected or liked, but the new residents are here, the new ideas are here, the new wants and needs are here. To resist and deny is simply not an option any more.
It is time for our state and local elected officials to respond to residents and plan for the future needs. Then they must work with other political jurisdictions that can best assist Carroll, and which Carroll can in return best assist. Mutual assistance is the key in making an agreement successful.