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Harford council wants to drop ban on ex-members taking county jobs

The Harford County Council will hold a public hearing Tuesday evening on seven proposed amendments to the county charter, including one that will remove the two-year ban on ex-council members taking jobs with the county government after they leave office.

Several of the proposed amendments were recommended by a charter review board the council appointed earlier this year to study and recommend changes to the 40-year-old charter.

The amendment to drop the two-year employment ban, which is contained in Bill 12-31, however, did not come out of the review board. That bill is sponsored by Councilman Jim McMahan.

The proposed change would not affect the two-year employment ban that also applies to the county executive. Harford County Executive David Craig said Thursday he declined an offer from the council that he support such a change for his office.

The charter review board had suggested a number of other changes, including establishing term limits for council members, only requiring publishing notices in one newspaper instead of two, filling a vacancy in the office of the county executive in the same manner as for a council member and allowing a redistricting committee to have two members from any political party that had 15 percent of registered voters during the previous election.

The recommended two-term limit for council members did not make the final cut, although most of the board's other recommendations did.

Other amendments that are up for consideration at Tuesday's hearing, which begins at 7 p.m. at 212 S. Bond St. in Bel Air, include:

12-28 – Requires that in filling a vacancy in the office of the county executive, the person selected must be of the same political party as the departed executive and be nominated by that party's central committee.

12-29 – Changes a requirement that notices of legislation, hearings and other official documents be published in two newspapers to one newspaper and on "an official site that is accessible to the public."

12-30 – Moves the submission date for the annual budget to the council from April 1 to April 15 and the date for budget enactment from May 31 to June 15.

12-32 – Clarifies that both major political parties, as well as any other political party with at least 15 percent of the registered voters in the last election, are entitled to two seats on a redistricting commission appointed every two years to recommend changes in council district boundaries.

12-33 – Gives council members more latitude to discuss zoning matters than they are permitted, so that the ban on discussing such matters applies only to "current cases filed and pending."

12-34 – Adding the positions of council auditor, council attorney and council aide to the exempt service, meaning those are at-will positions.

Any of the amendments approved by the council will still need to be approved by the county's voters in the November general election.

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