On a night when drizzle and heavy fog enshrouded much of the county,one man presented a clear and detailed vision of what form charter government in Carroll should take.
The seven-page plan Finksburg resident William Sraver Jr. offered the Charter Review Commission last night specified how many council members there should be, how much money they should make, what districts they should represent and what days and hours they should meet.
"Your job is to write a constitution for the government of Carroll County, and that is no easy task," he said.
Of the 10 people whoturned out for the hearing at North Carroll High School, only Sraveroffered testimony. He called for seven, district-elected council members, and even presented a map showing proposed division of the districts.
A key point is that elections should be non-partisan, said Sraver, a manager in the state Department of General Services' office of real estate.
"The biggest cause of problems in our government is the two-party system, and in local government it's more so," he said. "We can take some of the politics out of politics if we have a non-partisan election."
Though very detailed, Sraver's proposal contained a few unusual ideas. For instance, the council should meet once a month on Saturdays starting at 9 a.m.
"I've been warned it's nota good idea, but I feel very strongly about this because everyone would have the opportunity to go," he said.
Sraver's no stranger to charter government. He helped with the petition drive that led to theappointment of the nine-member board, which is charged with writing a draft charter for Carroll residents to vote on. A former resident of Anne Arundel County, he also was active in getting that county's charter movement organized in the early '60s. The county passed its charter in 1964.
Sraver said he personally favors an elected county executive, but urged the board to write a charter calling for an appointed county manager instead. He thinks Carroll residents might perceive that an executive would have too much power, and thus vote down the charter.
"I would like to see a charter passed, but I don't wantto see something in there that would make it tougher," he said.
Council members who bypass department heads to meddle in the work of department staffers should face criminal penalties of six months in prison and a $2,000 fine, he said.
"Don't laugh, it's in the Anne Arundel charter," he told the board
Above all, Sraver told the boardto take its time.
"Don't rush it. This document is probably the most important thing to happen to Carroll County since 1857," he said."You have to take the time to do it right. If it doesn't get done before the November election, so be it."
The board conducts its final preliminary public hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Francis Scott Key High School. The board will then begin the actual process of writing acharter.