Chamber endorses charter Proposal called more businesslike


The Carroll County Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the proposed county charter, saying it would provide a more businesslike way of running county government.

Chamber President Wayne Barnes, a Westminster insurance agent, said yesterday that the chamber's board of directors voted recently to support the document.

He would not disclose the vote, but said the 17-member board was not unanimous in its support.

If residents vote to approve the charter in the Nov. 3 election, a five-member council elected from districts and an appointed administrator would replace the current commissioner form of government.

David Duree, chairman of the Committee for Charter Government, said the endorsement is important because many residents respect the business community's opinion, which generally is conservative.

The chamber's county relations committee studied the proposed charter, according to a statement written by Mr. Barnes and chamber Executive Director Helen Utz.

Carroll's charter board, which wrote the document, requested and received input from the chamber and included some of the group's suggestions, the statement said.

"As a business organization, the emphasis of the study was focused on how the charter proposed management of the $145 million business of Carroll County government both from an administrative and a fiscal point of view," it said.

The chamber said in its statement that most businesses the size of Carroll's government operate with an elected board of directors that sets policy and an appointed president to handle day-to-day activities.

"An elected county council with an appointed professional county manager could operate under similar business principles and could provide for greater efficiency and quicker response from government," the chamber said.

"Because the proposed charter calls for part-time, evening positions, the composition of the council could provide county government with a virtually untapped resource of business and professional leaders who are unable to be candidates under the present system."

Mr. Barnes said the chamber voiced that comment because the three current county commissioners meet during the day, which means people with full-time day jobs cannot hold those positions. "We're losing a lot of very, very active people who are up on government, business and the economy," he said.

Carroll has had good commissioners, but more people would be available to serve under the charter form of government, Mr. Barnes said.

The chamber also supports the charter's provisions for home rule, in which the council could introduce and pass laws, and a referendum provision.

The cost of charter government would depend on the "spending philosophy of the persons we elect to office and the citizens' requests for services," the chamber statement said.

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