Time is now for charter government

The time has come for Carroll County to change its form of government. Under a commissioner government since the late 19th century, Carroll County has ceded significant power to the Maryland General Assembly. It is time for the county to gain the independence it should have always had. Twelve Maryland counties are now governed by a charter style of government. And not one has chosen to move back to a commissioner form.

Charter provides for broad legislative power over local public laws, rather than depending on the Maryland General Assembly — the vast majority of which are not voted into office by Carroll County voters, and who may not have the best interests of our county at heart. Public officials should be held accountable by the voters. A charter form of government will put power into the hands of public officials elected into — and out of — office by Carroll County constituents.

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Charter does not mean an increase in taxes or overall operating budget. The cost of a charter government can be controlled by the charter itself, which can be written to limit operating expenses. Carroll County currently requires a super majority of Commissioners to raise taxes. There is nothing to prevent a future county council from operating under the same constraints.

Charter allows for checks and balances of legislative and executive power. No one person needs to have sole power in a charter government. The charter can be written to allow for a county executive and a county council, which provides checks and balances over the other. Or, the charter may not contain a county executive at all. Currently, there is no system for checks and balances on the commissioners. Carroll County needs real separation of powers.

Charter controls the size of government. The charter itself determines the appropriate size of county government. It may be the same, or even smaller, than the commissioner style government we currently have. Charter government does not mean additional bureaucratic layers to local government. In fact, if there is an executive, day-to-day decision-making could be streamlined and more efficient for agency operations.

Let the public decide on charter government. Allow for the formation of a charter-writing committee, with dedicated citizens who are committed to writing a charter that will provide for the best representation of Carroll County citizens. And then let the public vote on that charter. The time is now.

Raquel Walsh

Manchester

Charter will give big payday to pols

Lest you have any doubt about the headline atop this letter, it came from comments made by elected officials at Commissioner Eric Bouchat’s charter promotion meeting on June 27. Del. Susan Krebs said that Carroll County was the best county in the state during her presentation to meeting attendees. During the question and answer session, a member of the audience asked, “If Carroll is the best county then why should we go to charter form of government?” Del. Krebs answered, “Switching to charter will make us better.”

Really?

Another attendee asked the three elected politicians; Del. Krebs, county commissioner Dennis Frazier and Bouchat if they would recuse themselves and promise not to run for county executive should charter government be adopted on Carroll County. None of them would recuse themselves which should tell you a lot about what is going on with these government officials and their motivation for charter government. It is clear these three officials are pushing for charter to feather their own nests at taxpayer expense by running for the county executive job.

I am the treasurer of the Carroll Taxpayer Coalition PAC. We are going to have meetings around the county to provide more information about charter government (July 8 at North Carroll branch library; July 15 at Eldersburg branch library; and July 18 at Finksburg branch library). Former Frederick County Commissioner Kirby Delauter will address attendees at the meeting in Finksburg. Mr. Delauter lived through the switch from commissioner form of government to charter in Frederick County. He can tell you how that worked out for the county and its citizens.

Jim Holstein

Mount Airy

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