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Charter board votes to pay council members $7,500 Initial $5,000 proposal was thought too low


WESTMINSTER -- The board writing a charter for Carroll government voted 6-0 last night to pay five County Council members $7,500 annually, with the council chairman receiving an additional $500.

The nine-member board, which is drafting the document that could replace the current commissioner form of government if approved by voters, originally proposed $5,000 salaries for council members. Members argued several weeks ago that the amount was too low and suggested a salary as high as $10,000.

Greg Pecoraro, who made the motion for the $7,500 salary, said council members in larger jurisdictions such as Montgomery and Baltimore counties earn between $30,000 and $60,000. He added that positions on some of the councils in larger jurisdictions are full-time jobs. Even smaller counties that have charter government, such as Harford and Howard, pay council members more than $10,000, except for Wicomico County, he said.

"I don't think we're comparable to those counties where it's a full-time job. We're trying to keep it part time," he said. "Nobody's going to get rich on [$7,500]."

Richard Yates advocated keeping the salary as low as possible in order to attract to the council "people who really want to serve without regard to salary."

"This charter is for a conservative electorate," Yates said. "If we highball the salaries, they'll strike it down right away. When the commissioners raised their salaries to $30,000, they got a lot of criticism."

The charter board, which is aiming to place the charter on the November ballot, voted last week to create a five-member council elected by district, with no at-large members. The council would meet weekly.

The board also discussed appointing a Charter Review Commission every 10 years to review the charter and evaluate the government's effectiveness.

A charter outlines the structure, powers, duties and limitations of government. It allows a county governing body to enact local laws, rather than having to go through the General Assembly. It typically involves a council and an elected county executive or an appointed manager.

The charter board has decided to have an appointed manager.

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