County residents who debated Del. Donald B. Elliott's initiative to expand the Board of County Commissioners at a public hearing yesterday reached consensus on only one point: Most are unhappy with the current three-member county commission.
The county General Assembly delegation's annual session to hear public comment on local legislative proposals attracted about 75 people, a relatively high turnout. Many came to debate legislation to authorize creation of a special taxing district for Lineboro.
Elliott, a Republican representing western Carroll, plans to introduce legislation to add two commissioners, creating a five-member board. If the bill passes, the creation of an expanded board will be left for voters to decide in a referendum, he said.
"This government, when you reach the population we have, it becomes complicated and there are a lot of decisions that have to be made," Elliott said. He said five commissioners would provide the county's 140,000 residents "an expanded intellectual and experience base."
Some who responded to Elliott's proposal said five commissioners could be a good compromise between the three-member board and a charter form of government consisting of a county council and a county executive. Residents supported the creation of election districts. The current board is elected at large.
Others said they didn't see the point of expanding the board.
Former Commissioner J. Norman Graham of Linwood recalled former state Sen. Charles H. Smelser saying that he had erred in supporting expanding Frederick County's board to five commissioners.
"There's just as much argument and dissent as among three," Graham said.
Several South Carroll residents said they felt their region has been poorly represented in county government, and now suffers clogged roads and crowded schools. One woman said she would like to see district representation, whether by commissioners or councilmen.
Cherie Jenkins, a charter backer, said, "Is it better to have five who disagree than three?"
In other forums, the county commissioners have been criticized for inadequate planning to keep pace with growth. However, developers have been frustrated by the interim development control ordinance and efforts to stall growth while Carroll officials revise the county's master plan. Also, some residents are unhappy with the commissioners for last year's property tax increase.
The delegation listened to an hour of debate from Lineboro residents on the proposed special taxing district for water and sewerage. State Sen. Larry E. Haines, the delegation chairman, advised the group seeking the district to schedule a public meeting in Lineboro to give residents more information and seek consensus.
The district would allow Lineboro residents with failing septic systems to build a community sewage-treatment system. Connecting to the system would be voluntary, proponents stressed.
A South Carroll citizens group changed its plan to lobby the delegation to establish a "people's counsel," a lawyer who would act on the public's behalf in government decisions.
Solutions for a Better South Carroll representative Patricia Hughes declined to present the proposal, because, she said, Haines' comments reported in the Carroll County Times "told us it would not be appropriate. I would like to thank Senator Haines for making it clear procedure and protocol are more important than hearing from the citizens."
Haines reiterated that "At these public hearings, we don't take proposed legislation from citizens." He said the idea should have been submitted to the commissioners earlier to allow them to decide whether to ask the delegation for the legislation.
Pub Date: 1/19/97