WESTMINSTER -- County residents told the Carroll Charter Board at a hearing last night that they supported electing a county council by district, but questioned appointing an administrator to run government rather than electing a county executive.
About 80 residents attended the hearing at the Agriculture Center to comment on the charter board's first draft of the document that would become Carroll government's first constitution if approved by voters.
A charter would replace the current commissioner form of government.
The board has proposed a five-member county council, with each member representing a different geographic district.
Hearings also will be at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Taneytown Library, 10 Grand Drive; and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Eldersburg Library, 6400 West Hemlock Drive.
Residents also urged the board to place a limit on terms in office for elected officials; add a provision that would allow disgruntled constituents to have a "recall" election to oust certain council members or an executive from office; and eliminate a provision that prohibits voters from petitioning certain laws to referendum.
Several speakers expressed concern that an administrator LTC appointed by a council would not be accountable to the electorate, but rather would aim to please the council.
A council-administrator structure would not provide "checks and balances" between branches of government, they said.
"An administrator appointed by the council sounds to me like you're trying to keep it within the family," said Westminster resident Bob Nicholls.
Westminster resident Bob Jones said it might be easier to hire a capable administrator than to elect a capable executive, but he added that there's "merit" in electing a county policy-maker.
Westminster resident Frank Kushner objected to the provision that allows voters to petition to referendum any law except a decision on a zoning matter or a statute imposing a tax, appropriating money or establishing council districts.
"What else would [a council] do?" he asked, adding that voters should be able to force a referendum on any law.
Several speakers advocated a two-term, or eight-year, limit for elected office, and a recall provision in case voters are dissatisfied with a representative before a term has expired.
Manchester resident Patrick McCourt suggested including provisions setting limits on taxes.
"I don't like what the state is doing," he said.
The charter board will revise the document after the hearings, then present a final version to the county commissioners, who will advertise it in a newspaper.
The board wants to place the charter, which outlines the structure, powers, duties and limitations of government, on the November ballot.