Does Carroll County Need Charter Government?Before making...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 01, 1992

Does Carroll County Need Charter Government?

Before making some comments concerning the proposal for charter government for Carroll County, let me say as a citizen I respect and applaud the work done by the charter board. This board was composed of nine fine people, most of whom I know, and all of them worked long hours, diligently, honestly, and with one goal in mind, to present what they believe to be the best form of charter government possible for Carroll County.

So I regret that I must take a stand against the efforts of this fine group of people, but I do not feel that a change from our commissioner form of government that has served the county so well for over 125 years would be a productive move.

If charter government is a better solution for county governmental problems, then it seems to me that all counties in the state would have embraced this form of government long ago. Such is not the case as evidenced by the fact that only eight counties out of 23 in the state have charter government. . . .

Charter government as proposed for Carroll County has some appeal to citizens, such as a reduction from 15 percent to 12 percent of the county assessable wealth as a limit to its bonded indebtedness. But such a provision is of no consequence when we realize that our bonded indebtedness at present is only 3 percent of our assessable wealth and the likelihood of it ever going to 12 percent is extremely remote. A cap on real estate taxes is also appealing, but the provision is meaningless when it can be set aside by a vote of 4 out of 5 councilmen as proposed by the charter.

One of the most universal complaints about the proposed charter is the fact that voters would be denied the right to vote for their own chief executive officer. The people are not likely to be willing to sacrifice this right of franchise, no matter how many plausible arguments are presented in its favor . . .

Charter proponents often criticize our present commissioner government for lack of legislative authority, which requires our commissioners to turn to our elected members of the legislature for any new legislation they may deem necessary for county government. This is our all-important system of checks and balances, which I believe is one of the great strengths of our

present system . . .

The old adage, "the proof of the pudding is in the eating," surely applies to our commissioner form of government. We have the best public library system in the state. We have a fine public school system. We have a super community college. We have an excellent county roads system. We have an excellent police system. We have fine recreational facilities, and a whole host of other services and amenities, all within a moderate tax burden, that makes Carroll County a place of envy in which to live . . .

Willard L. Hawkins

New Windsor

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At the regular monthly meeting of the Tri-District Republican Club, our membership studied the recently published County Charter that is on the ballot. After careful review, concerns were raised about the representation of our area. It was proposed that the club compose this letter to inform the residents of our concerns prior to Election Day.

During our meeting at the Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Finksburg, attention was drawn to the district lines set up in Article 3, sections 3.13.2 and 3.13.3. We realized after reading those sections the church in which we were meeting and its cemetery across the street would be severed into two different council districts.

This generated concern that these lines would unnecessarily split up and divide the communities of Finksburg, Sandymount and Reese. After discussing the broad land-use powers given to this proposed County Council, we questioned whether our neighborhoods could be at risk for radical zoning changes if our representation was diluted by the current charter if it were approved with these district lines.

Looking at District 2, it is clear that the preponderance of the voting strength and population in this new district would be in and around the towns of Hampstead and Manchester . . . If this charter were to pass in November, the Reese Firehall (our polling place) wouldn't even be in the district for our citizens . . .

In District 3, the problem is very similar . . . South Carroll could certainly out-vote our residents in Gamber and Smallwood when councilmen are elected.

The membership voted at our meeting to make our concerns public. We fear that the division of communities in the Tri-District Club's Service area and the nature of County Council seats elected only by districts could pose a grave risk to Greater Finksburg. We also caution residents here to study these proposed districts carefully before casting their vote on this charter on Nov. 3.

Donald C. Frazier

Milton Vane

Atlee Conaway

Finksburg

The writers are are members of the Tri-District Republican Club.

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County Charter is not a better government, it is a bigger government! Who needs more bureaucracy?

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