Teachers reject Carroll charter plan

October 16, 1992|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Teachers and other school employees are opposing the county's proposed charter government because they say it includes a tax cap that could hinder Carroll's ability to provide future services.

"We're afraid if there's a limitation put on the ability to raise tax revenues, it will directly affect police protection, emergency services and public education," said Cindy Cummings, president the Carroll County Education Association.

The association represents about 1,200 teachers.

David Duree, chairman of the Committee for Charter Government, said that the document does not contain "an absolute tax cap" but suggests limits on tax increases.

A coalition of four groups representing education workers is speaking out in opposition to the proposed charter, said Harold Fox, CCEA chief negotiator.

It is the only organized effort to oppose the charter that the proposal's supporters are aware of, Mr. Duree said.

Two members of the board that drafted the charter also are opposing it. They are Richard T. Yates and V.Lanny Harchenhorn, who voted against the final document.

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.

Voters will be asked to vote on the charter on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Specifically, the education employees oppose Section 5.3.2 of Article V, which says that at least four of the five council members must vote for any tax increase that exceeds the current tax rate plus an increase for the cost of living.

The educational coalition calls that a tax cap. Charter supporters donot.

Mr. Fox said Carroll is a fast-growing county and the government needs the ability to raise taxes to keep services in line with demand.

The state continues to pass more costs for services to local governments, and local governments need the ability to raise money to provide those services, he said.

Mr. Duree said the proposed charter does not mandate a tax cap, but future councils could implement one if they choose.

"This document sends a signal to be careful about raising property taxes," he said. "It still says you could do it."

Sharon Fischer, president of Carroll Association School Employees, said the tax cap provision "undermines what could basically be a good system."

The groups are in favor of the charter government concept, but the tax cap provision overrides other issues, Mr. Fox said.

CCEA's representative assembly, comprised of delegates froeach school, voted "overwhelmingly" last month to oppose the charter, Mrs. Cummings said.

The coalition opposing the charter is made up of the CCEACASE; the American Federation of Federal,State, County and Municipal Employees; and food service employees, Mr. Fox said.

Group leaders are talking to their members about the charter and to other Board of Education employees, Mrs. Cummings said. The Board of Education has about 2,000 employees.

dTC Mr. Fox said he also is speaking to parent-teacher groups ancommunity groups whenever possible.

Charter supporters also are on the speakers' circuit, Mr. Duree said.

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