Consensus On Council Makeup Eludes Charter Board

Panel Debates Mix Of Districts And At-large Seats Vs. All At-large Positions

March 25, 1992|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — A charter board subcommittee last night offered two choices in the makeup of a proposed county council:

* A council made up of seven members, two elected at large and the other five elected from separatedistricts.

* A five-member council, each member elected at large.

The choices were presented by the nine-member board's legislative subcommittee during a weekly meeting at the Ag Center.

L. Gregory Pecoraro said the subcommittee felt it was better "to let the board decide" thecouncil's makeup. But the board, charged with writing a charter to present to voters, appeared unready to chose the council's makeup lastnight.

V. Lanny Harchenhorn said he supported a five-member, elected-at-large panel because "a number of problems" would arise with the other recommendation.

One of the problems, he said, would be redistricting after every 10-year census. Reapportionment would take both time and money, he said.

"(There's) no real need in this county for districts," he said, noting one part of the county has real difference from the next.

However, Jon Buck said he has heard complaints from South Carroll residents who feel that portion of the county istreated like a stepchild.

"I'm still wrestling with which way to go," said Neal W. Powell.

Less debate occurred on other aspects pertaining to the legislative body. The subcommittee recommended:

* Four-year council terms.

* An initial annual salary of $5,000.

* Vacancies to be filled by the council or governor, depending on thenumber of vacancies, from recommended lists from party central committees.

* A president and vice president elected yearly by the panel.

Members debated the qualifications needed to be elected to council. The subcommittee recommended barring residents holding other elected offices from serving.

Some members also expressed concerns about teachers or county workers serving on the council and facing potential conflicts, such as voting on salary raises.

The board also perused a variety of other related issues, including legislative procedures, limitations and powers of council, meeting times, quorums, journal and minutes.

Last week, the board, on a 6-3 vote, chose an appointed county manager because it would be less expensive and less political than an elected executive.

Richard Yates, Joseph Getty andHarchenhorn -- all newly elected members -- voted against an appointed manager.

Choosing the form of an executive was the board's first major step toward writing a draft.

The board is working against a November deadline to get a proposed charter on the general electionballot.

If approved, a charter would serve as a constitution for Carroll and a change in its current commissioner form of government.

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