Although the Carroll County commissioners' legislative package for the General Assembly session that convenes tomorrow contains 14 bills, twice as many as last year's, most of them are of a housekeeping nature. They range from permitting the county to collect administrative fees for the new forest conservation ordinance to changing the way municipalities receive state funding.
There is, however, one very important measure that Carroll'sState House delegation ought to seriously push for passage. That bill calls for the state government to give the county three years' notice before it terminates the resident trooper program. The uncertainty over the future of the resident troopers makes planning for a county police force extremely difficult.
At present, no one knows whether the program will be ended this year or continue indefinitely. In all fairness to the county and its citizens, the state should be required to give sufficient notice if the program -- which provides policing for most of the county -- is ended.
Last spring, a study group recommended that thecommissioners begin planning for a county police force. Given the tight fiscal situation, the commissioners will be reluctant to commit money to preparing for a county police force if they don't have to. The real risk is that if the state suddenly pulls the plug on the troopers, the commissioners will have to scramble to create a police department and possibly could jeopardize public safety. Carroll's delegation should do what it can to eliminate this uncertainty.
The county package also asks for permission to create a solid waste disposal authority to ensure the county can keep pace with Carroll's solid waste disposal problems.
Two other bills reflect the unsettled relations between the commissioners and the Board of Education.
One proposal would give the commissioners a permanent line-item veto over school board spending. (The commissioners had the temporary authority last year, but didn't use it.) Another measure would allow the commissioners to conduct a performance audit of the school board's management practices. With the school board recently agreeing to undergo a performance audit, the urgency of this measure has been pre-empted.