Charter draft will be ready next month County panel plans to review version at Dec. 4 meeting

No 'bells and whistles'

Special election may be required to consider plan

November 23, 1997|By Mary Gail Hare and James M. Coram | Mary Gail Hare and James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

The first draft of the document that could give Carroll a county executive-county council form of government will be ready by early next month.

With the initial work of the nine-member county charter board completed, the panel expects to review the charter draft at its Dec. 4 meeting and fine-tune it over the next two weeks before sending the final version to the Maryland Institute of Governmental Studies for review.

"We wanted someone outside the county to look at it, and, hopefully, they will review the legality for free," said board Chairman Carmen M. Amedori.

Assuming all board members agree that the draft reflects their votes, "everything should be done and in place by the first of the year," Amedori said.

Hampstead Mayor Christopher M. Nevin, who is writing the draft with New Windsor Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr., said he is looking forward to a finished product "for the people to consider that, hopefully, they find fair -- a document that provides a comprehensive form of government that leads us into the future."

The timetable may a bit ambitious, but "it should be ready to go by late January," said Nevin, the charter board vice chairman.

Gullo agreed, provided the institute, at the University of Maryland, College Park, reviews the charter without charging the county and finds it needs no major revisions.

"I want this reviewed for legal things," Gullo said. The board, not the institute, should determine the the charter's content, Gullo said.

said the aim was to keep the charter "as simple as possible and give the elected officials accountable for running the government as much leeway as possible."

The proposed charter "does not have bells and whistles that would handcuff officials," he said. "If voters want that eventually, they can amend the charter later."

The charter calls for an elected county executive "to run the day-to-day affairs of government with the proper checks and balances from the county council," Nevin said.

Since County Commissioners appointed the board in June, "there has been a rush on the charter from those [board members] who wanted charter yesterday," Amedori said.

Had it not been for the "rush," the charter "could probably be better," Amedori said. "But it's adequate. If you want to change government, it will do the job."

She expects a majority of the board members to sign it by early February.

The timing could force a special election, which would cost the county about $106,000.

Amedori, who favors keeping the commissioner form of government but expects to sign the charter, said she will do nothing to slow the charter movement.

"I'm a true believer in the process," she said. "And as long as what's there is what we agreed on, I'll sign. I think we [as a board] worked well together and that it's going to be fine."

The commissioners are required by law to schedule a special election within four months of receiving a proposed charter from the board, unless a primary or general election falls within that period.

With the 1998 primary set for September, a special election would be necessary.

Gullo said he will not "play politics" with the proposed charter and delay signing it until summer if it is ready before then.

"Once we're finished, that's when we should put our signatures on it," he said.

Pub Date: 11/23/97

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