Crofton property owners to decide on counselor

June 29, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

Property owners in the Crofton special tax district will be asked this summer if they want their money used to pay for a community counselor, recreation programs and covenant enforcement.

The Crofton Civic Association (CCA) board of directors voted in secret Monday on the wording of a petition to broaden the scope of the special tax district's charter.

The petition became necessary after County Attorney Judson Garrett questioned whether Crofton might be overstepping its legal authority to spend money on the community counselor program because the charter does not specifically mention it.

It had been anticipated that the CCA board would draft charter language for the counselor program.

But one hour into Monday's public meeting, CCA President Edwin Dosek announced that the board was going to meet privately "to consider legal matters."

When the meeting reconvened in public 90 minutes later, Mr. Dosek announced that in addition to the counselor program, board members added language that would give them two additional powers: the authority to provide recreation programs and the authority to enforce covenants.

Reporters questioned whether the closed session complied with the requirements of Maryland's open meetings law.

Mr. Dosek replied: "We had a legal opinion that we had to discuss concerning the petition and that had to be done in closed session. . . . There's no way that you had any right to be here."

Mr. Dosek denied that the board discussed the petition while in secret session. Board members then recounted the motions and how they each voted.

The three-page letter from Crofton's attorney, Frederick Sussman, was not made public.

The counselor program has been under attack from residents who feel the community should not be paying for a service that is also provided the county. Opponents also say the program should have the approval of taxpayers.

Earlier this year, County Executive Robert R. Neall made conditional his approval of Crofton's budget for fiscal 1995.

While Mr. Neall did not challenge the CCA's authority to operate the program, he did note the charter loophole.

The county executive said that unless 51 percent of Crofton property owners approve the charter amendment, the county will eliminate funding for the counselor program Jan. 31.

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