One would let the Council increase the County Executive’s proposed budget.
Frederick, Md (KM) After more than three hours of discussion Tuesday night, the Frederick County Council agreed to decide next week on whether to place seven charter amendments on the general election ballot in November.
One of the amendments proposed by Councilman Phil Dacey would give Council members the authority to increase the County Executive’s proposed budget. Currently, the board can only decrease or delete items from the spending plan.
Dacey says a number of Maryland jurisdictions, including the Baltimore City Council, are moving in that direction. “Regardless of what you think of this, I wanted to bring this forward because I do think this issue is going to keep coming beck until the voters have a chance to really weigh in on it,” he said.
Councilman Jerry Donald is opposed. “If this passes, it will fundamentally change this job, at least for six weeks a year,”: he said. “I think every budget appeal that goes to the Executive that the Executive doesn’t fund, many of them will come to us saying ‘please fund this.'”
Council President MC Keegan-Ayer expressed her opposition. “We would need to have additional staff. That would end up costing money. I really do not believe the taxpayers in Frederick County want us to having to hire additional staff,: she said.
But Councilman Steve McKay said this amendment is necessary to counter a future County Executive who may be very aggressive about cutting the budget. “One who cuts Head Start, for example. You have no ability to refund such an effort. It would be gone because you have no power to change that,” he said,.
Other amendments to the charter would provide for special elections to fill vacancies on the Council, and the County Executive. Other measures would allow Council members to be eligible for fringe benefits from the county; give the County Council President a 10% additional salary, allow individual council members to request information from the executive branch; and require an appointed County Executive to be of the same party as the departing County Executive, and require Central Committee of the party of the departing County Executive to chose two candidates for the position, not one.
One amendment that did pass Tuesday night and will go to the voters in November would reduce the county’s permissible debt limits.
The Council is expected to take a vote at next Tuesday’s meeting.
By Kevin McManus