ELDERSBURG — Learning how charter government might work for Carroll is no great mystery.
Just look at the eight Carroll municipalities that have operated under charters for years, Sykesville Mayor Lloyd R. Helt Jr. told the county charter board last night.
"Draw from the municipal experience: We've had charter since 1954, and we wouldn't give it up in Sykesville for anything," Helt said. "It works for us, and it works well."
Helt spoke during a public hearing conducted by the Charter Review Commission at Liberty High.
The charter board was appointed by the commissioners last fall and charged with writing a charter that, if approved by voters, would change the form of government in Carroll.
Last night's hearing, attended by 20 people, was the second of four. The hearings are aimed at giving citizens the chance to tell the board what features a Carroll charter should include.
Giving voters a power of petition and referendum is a critical feature of charter government, Helt said.
"That's a very important check on what (elected officials) do," said Helt,the only person to offer comments to the board.
The Sykesville mayor also countered comments advanced by charter opponents that charter government would be more costly for Carroll than the current commissioner form.
"I haven't seen a survey yet that says a charter is more expensive," he said. "Those arguments, I think, don't hold water."
The commissioners now must have county laws passed through the General Assembly. Perhaps the most important feature of charter government is that it brings the power of local legislative authority to the county, Helt said.
"I refuse to believe that bigger is better . . . that we have to turn to Annapolis for guidance," he said.
Heltsuggested an elected executive and seven-member county council -- six from districts and one at-large member. He called for four-year terms for the executive and council, with a three-term limit.
"You have to refresh the roots of liberty now and then," he said.
The next hearing is at 7 p.m. Tuesday at North Carroll High, followed by a Feb. 25 meeting at Francis Scott Key High.
In other charter board news, a hearing is set for 10 a.m. Friday in Carroll Circuit Court on a suit claiming that eight people seeking to challenge the appointed board members for their seats in the March 3 election filed an invalid petition.
Finksburg resident Frank H. Rammes claims in his suit that the challengers did not adhere to state law when submitting to the county commissioners their petition to be included on the primary ballot.