Charter Board Undecided On Basic County Council Features

Panel Votes, 8-1, For Governing Body With Either 5 Or 7 Members

April 15, 1992|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — The board writing a charter for Carroll's government broke out maps and census figures last night for a preliminary discussion of configurations for councilmanic districts.

The Charter Review Commission voted, 8-1, to create a county council that would have a minimum of five members and a maximum of seven. It did not decide how many council members would be elected by district and how many would be elected at-large.

The board voted 5-4 to create a council that includes a combination of at-large and district representatives, regardless of whether the body includes five or seven members. That leaves the board with several options to consider and likely will result in a charter provision breaking the county into three, four or five contiguous, geographicdistricts with nearly equal populations.

The committee plans to discuss more specific boundaries for districts -- and the number of voting regions to be created -- and vote on them at a later session after a more thorough study of the county's demographics.

The committee is writing the document that could become the constitution for Carroll government and replace the current commissioner form. The panel intends to complete its work in time to place the charter on the November ballot as a referendum.

The committee debated the merits and drawbacks of creating a council elected strictly by district vs. one that included members elected at large. The board previously decided to have an appointed manager, not an elected executive.

Several members agreed the county should have a minimum offive districts because of the diverse interests and characteristics of regions within Carroll.

"I'd be concerned that there would be too much variety withinone district if we only had four districts," said Barbara S. F. Pease. "If there are more districts, we can do a better job of balancing the different needs and personalities."

Other members expressed concern that dividing the county into too many districts could promote "parochialism." It could result in council members making deals to bring advantages to their district and focusing on their region to the exclusion of the interests of the county as a whole, they said.

Walt Bay said he believed the county could be divided into four equal and logical districts after some study, leaving the option for three at-large members.

Neal W. Powell countered that the at-large members potentially could all be elected from the same district, which could exacerbate a tendency toward parochialism.

The board also decided to ask the commissioners for an administrative secretary to record minutes and keep files for the group, as previously promised. Severalmembers expressed concern that the commissioners were not supportingthe charter-writing effort.

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