Legislation Proves Need For Charter

AS I SEE IT

February 09, 1992|By Sharon Hornberger

It has been said, "Government that governs closest to the people governs best."

Recently, the Carroll County commissioners introduced their legislative package for Annapolis.

In this package exists the type of "proof" that is needed by someresidents to show why Carroll should become a charter county and adopt a type of government that is locally based and responsive to the needs of its citizens.

The 1992 legislative package contained two interesting proposals:

* First was a bill granting the county authority to investigate any weed nuisance complaint where weeds are more than 12 inches tall.

* Another was a request to establish a hotel tax for our county. The proceeds of this tax would be used to promoteeconomic development in Carroll.

Both of these are reasonable ideas; both should be areas of concern for our commissioners.

Over the years, bill after bill affecting Carroll County has had to be introduced into the Maryland General Assembly. Many charter opponents haveargued that the delegation in Annapolis acts as a "check" on county government.

However, what they miss is that the other 182 legislators from around the state also act as a "check" on Carroll County's government.

Many charter supporters do not want Carroll to be at the mercy of a legislator from Baltimore or Prince George's County or Montgomery County. They simply want their own autonomy and freedom.

If the people of Carroll County feel a need exists for another checkon our county government, maybe we need to elect different individuals as commissioners.

And if we need to constantly be putting checks on these three individuals as charter opponents are saying, then they don't trust our current local government -- furthering the need tobring charter government to Carroll.

In other years, the commissioners have requested bills in their legislative packages that could be handled best here in Carroll County by Carroll County:

* The 1991 legislative package contained a bill to authorize the commissionersto give county contributions to non-profit organizations. Did we really need to take up legislative time of 188 men and women with this piece of legislation?

* The 1990 legislative package had a bill to increase the county's bid limitation from $7,000 to $12,000.

* The1989 legislative package contained bills to authorize the county to regulate wild and exotic animals and to detail how the county processes claims for "dog kills."

* The 1988 legislative package had a bill to protect Carroll's water resources from possible contamination due to incompatible land use.

The way that bill was drafted by county government prompted Delegate Thomas Rymer, then Environmental Matters Committee chairman, to respond that the county water resources management program "is more far-reaching that the powers even granted to a charter county."

Even in 1987, when that bill was drawn up forthe 1988 session, the commissioners wanted to go beyond its current powers to act for the betterment of the county.

* The 1987 legislative package saw a bill that would have granted an increase in the Length of Service Award Program to increase the monthly stipend from $100 to $150 for volunteer firefighters.

* The 1985 legislative package had a bill proposing the establishment of a fee for groups to obtain a county raffle license.

* The 1983 legislative package contained a bill creating an administrative assistant, county attorney and a county clerk for Carroll. That type of administrative processing really didn't need the approval of the state legislature.

And more importantly, none of those legislative proposals had a public hearing in Carroll County. The general public never had an opportunity to express an opinion on these proposals prior to their presentation to theAnnapolis delegation.

Carroll needs a government that is responsive to its citizens and deals with legislation that affects us locally. We do not need a "check" from Annapolis.

We also don't need to take up legislative time with our local bills. A man or woman who runsfor the General Assembly is concerned for the needs of our local jurisdiction and citizens. We don't need to rely on men and women from Baltimore or the Eastern Shore or the Washington suburbs.

We cannotand should not allow out-of-county legislators to have a veto power over Carroll, and likewise, we should not be wasting their time on legislative matters affecting only certain counties when we have fiscaland budgetary problems such as we are facing now in Maryland that need to be addressed.

If we truly need a checks-and-balance system, and if we don't trust our county leadership, isn't it time for a change?

Isn't it time to establish a form of government where all the citizens of Carroll County can have a voice?

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