Charter backers make a case for an elected council Speakers ready to explain provisions

October 04, 1992|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

If people are willing to listen, charter government supporters are willing to talk.

"Anybody interested can contact us, and we'll come out and speak to them. We're trying to get the truth out about what the charter can and cannot do," said Gary W. Bauer of Hampstead, a member of the Committee for Charter Government.

The committee is in the midst of a campaign to explain the charter, which residents will be asked to vote for or against in the Nov. 3 election.

At least one opponent is on the speaking circuit, too, trying to persuade voters to see it his way.

The charter proposes to replace the current form of commissioner government with a non-partisan, appointed county administrator and a five-member council elected by districts.

Supporters are also trying to let voters know that there will be two charter questions on the ballot, and that Carroll's question will be on the last page, said committee Chairman David Duree of New Windsor.

The Carroll question says, "Are you for or against Carroll County adopting the proposed Home Rule Charter as prepared by the Charter Board?"

The first charter question on the ballot will be posed to voters statewide. It will ask them whether they want to amend the state constitution to increase from 12 to 18 months the time a charter board created after Nov. 3 will have to prepare a charter.

Local charter supporters want to tell people they haven't voted for the Carroll question unless they go to the last ballot page, Mr. Duree said. Supporters plan to distribute cards at polling places on Election Day that remind voters to go to the last page, he said.

Mr. Duree, Mr. Bauer and about 20 others have been speaking to community groups, service and political clubs and residents gathered in neighbors' living rooms to discuss charter issues.

"The biggest question is, 'Is it going to cost more?' " Mr. Bauer said.

Supporters say no. Opponents disagree.

Opponent Richard T. Yates of Eldersburg, a member of the board that drafted the charter, said he has spoken to two Republican groups and hopes to speak to other groups.

"I'm afraid with an appointed executive we're going to have another school board," he said, adding that the council could increase the administrator's salary and perquisites.

Mr. Yates was one of two charter board members who voted against the document at the group's final meeting last month. He said he knows of no organized group working to oppose the charter.

He said he would have liked an elected county executive and term limitations for council members.

Supporter and committee member William Sraver Jr. said an elected county executive would be more expensive than an appointed executive because the elected official would need his or her own staff.

Charter government probably wouldn't cost more than the commissioner government does now, Mr. Bauer said.

Specific costs can't be calculated because the administrator's salary is not specified in the charter.

Carroll government costs now are high, Mr. Duree said.

A report earlier this year by the state Department of Fiscal Services showed that Carroll spent more per resident on government administration than all but three other Maryland jurisdictions.

The county's overall budget wasn't larger than some other jurisdictions, but Carroll spent more on general government, which includes planning, personnel, finance, executive and judicial functions, the report said.

Residents interested in learning more about the charter can attend a forum from 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 14 at Reese Fire Hall. Proponents and opponents will speak, Mr. Bauer said.

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