Baltimore County

Harford council overrides Craig veto of deputy director charter amendment

The Harford County Council easily overrode County Executive David Craig's veto of a proposed charter amendment to make deputy county department heads at-will employees.

The 6-1 override vote taken at Tuesday's council meeting matched the margin by which the charter amendment legislation passed last month. Once again, Councilwoman Mary Anne Lisanti cast the only dissenting vote.

The amendment will be placed on the November general election ballot. If approved, future deputy directors would serve at the pleasure of the county executive and their appointments will be subject to county council confirmation, the same as for directors.

In a message accompanying his veto, Craig said the deputy directors should remain classified employees because of the continuity they provide from one administration to the next and warn passage of the amendment "will have a very negative [a]ffect on the operation of Harford County government."

But council supporters of the change said each county executive should have the right to fill the top two positions in each department. Craig, who is running for governor, will leave the county executive's office after nine years in December.

Council President Billy Boniface said Craig had failed to advance any new, persuasive arguments against the amendment.

Another proposed charter amendment, which will expand the powers of the council's auditor to conduct special audits of county agencies, was also passed by the council last month. Craig chose not to sign that bill, letting it simply stand as enacted by the council. The special audits amendment will likewise be on the general election ballot for the county's voters to approve.

Zoning board amendment

The council did not vote Tuesday on a controversial proposed amendment to end the council's role as the county's zoning appeals board and planning and zoning commission.

Several people have spoken out against the proposed amendment, and a number of candidates who are opposing council members running for re-election have also come out against the amendment.

The deadline for the council to act on the zoning board amendment, Bill 14-21, is July 10, Council Administrator Pam Meister said Friday.

The council has a scheduled meeting this coming Tuesday, June 17. Meister said the council members have made no decision if they will meet during July and August, typically when they take a summer recess.

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