The Carroll County Charter Board is hard at work . . . meeting regularly . . . holding public hearings and making changes to the draft, as changes have been deemed necessary.
Everywhere you go in Carroll County, the question is the same. What do you think of the charter?
The question is asked at business meetings, social gatherings, barber shops, eateries and family picnics.
Now is the time to talk about this change to our county's form of government. Now is the time to ask questions and make suggestions, to let your thoughts and feelings be known.
Do you agree with the proposal of five election districts, with one member from each being elected to the board, and then having these members vote for a chairman?
This proposal would finally bring balanced representation to the county government. The present commissioners live within a 10-mile radius of each other. The residents of South and West Carroll have no direct representation on the board. They have no "neighbor" they can contact to discuss an area concern.
They have no immediate access to an elected official who is directly concerned or similarly concerned with their areas to represent them. Five election districts would finally address this problem.
What about the idea of an appointed manager or administrator? This concern has been one that has taken a great deal of time for the Charter Board. The proposal that there would be an appointee in charge of the county is one that not many I have spoken with find favorable.
The current charter draft indicated wide powers and TTC responsibilities for this person, including supervising and coordinating the administration of all functions of the several departments and administrative agencies, with the exception of two, who would be the council's representative on county boards and commissions.
The appointee would also be responsible for the care and custody of all county buildings and all real estate and personal property.
These are far-reaching and extremely important duties, all to be in the hands of one person appointed by the council members, not elected by the voters. Voters will have no direct say in who is hired for this position, nor will they have any direct means to remove this person from the position.
We, the voters, will have no say in the contract that will be negotiated with this person and no say in the salary. Does this situation sound familiar?
Will the voters truly have greater access to our elected official who represents our district, or will we have to go through this appointee to get to those we elected?
As I see it, any job worth doing is worth doing well. Charter Board, please take all the time necessary to write a good proposal. Please take all the time necessary to hold sufficient public hearings and listen as the voters of Carroll County address their concerns regarding the charter draft.
Do not rely on the few hundred questionnaires you have sent to attendees of past public hearings. Get input from other sources. Hold another public hearing on the weekend. Do questionnaires.
Please do not make this a situation where if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
A change to the county's government format has appeared on the ballot twice in the past and has failed twice.
Please make this the best possible charter. You have put too much time and energy into this effort to let this become a second-rate effort now.
At this time of the Olympics, be the Dream Team and go for the gold.