They could be put on the November, 2020 ballot.
Frederick, Md (KM) After months of work, the Frederick County Charter Review Commission has come up with eight amendments to the County’s Charter. Walter Olsen, whose a member of the Commission, says these recommendations will be presented to the County Council on Tuesday, March 10th. “Any recommendations that it likes or agrees with, it will then send to the voters to approve or disapprove in November,” he says.
Olsen says the recommendations include providing fringe benefits to County Councilmembers who work part time; allow a 10% salary increase for the Council President; and making it easier for the County Council to issue subpoenas. He says the Council can issue subpoenas to county agencies when it suspects something’s wrong. But the subpoenas must be approved by at least six Council members. The amendment would bring that number to five. “That proposal, which was I believe was unanimous, was meant to give the County Council a little power to investigate if they think something’s gone wrong,” he says.
Another amendment would allow individual County Council members to request information from county agencies without going through the County Executive office, as they do now.. “There were so many complaints that doing it in the roundabout way ,meant that people were not well informed, and it was hard to get action. And it would hard to know what was going on in county government,” says Olsen.
Other amendments would adjust the completion date of the Redistricting Commission to compensate for presidential election years. In addition, if a county executive was to leave office before his or her term was up, the County Council would decide who that person’s replacement would be. That departing executive’s party would select two candidates for the position and forward their names to the County Council which would make the final decision.
There’s also an amendment to reduce the permissible debt limits of the county.
Members of the Charter Review Commission were selected in May, 2019, by the Council. They were required to present their recommendations by February 28th, 2020.
“What I compare this to is kind of the first tuneup for a new car,” says Olsen. “You’re not trying to change this for a different model. You’re just seeing if anything hasn’t worked just right.”
By Kevin McManus