Frederick County Council Discusses Three Proposed Charter Amendments

One would let the Council increase the budget.

Frederick, Md. (KM) – The public will get a chance to comment next week on three proposed Charter amendments being considered by the Frederick County Council.

One which generated some discussion Tuesday night would give the Council the authority to increase funding in the budget. Councilman Steve McKay, who is sponsoring the amendment said it would “increase line item,  maintain a balanced budget in the end.  But not result in such an action that would have that level of disruption, or perceived disruption,  by creating a new office, project or program.” McKay says any increased  spending the budget would be offset by a reduction in another line item.

Chef Administrative Officer Rick Harcum said the County Executive has some  objections to this amendment. “While it sounds like a good idea, the actual implementation of it seems like it’s going to be fraught with a lot of challenges,” he said. “And at the end of the day, the Council has no ability to force the Executive to do anything.”

The County Executive prepares the budget each year which is sent over to the Council for is consideration and a vote.  .

“My request is that we continue to work together the way this Council has done with the Executive and hopefully the future Council and Executives find ways to collaborate and get things added to the budget that both sides agree on,” Harcum continued. “And avoid the situation where the legislative body is trying to insert something that the Executive is opposed to.”

Councilman McKay acknowledged that the current Council and the County Executive have had a good relationship when it comes to the budget. “We have an election coming up We don’t know what the relationship will be with whomever is filling the majority here and whomever is upstairs. We just don’t know,” he said.

Council President MC Keegan-Ayer says  this amendment has come up before. “We have had this debate on numerous occasions before and it’s been voted down every time for a series of reasons,”: she said. “At this point, we’re going to allow it  to go forward again and we will decide it in two weeks.”

The Council also discussed two other amendments. One sponsored by Councilwoman  Jessica Fitzwater would provide Council members with Fringe benefits in addition to their salaries. The third amendment sponsored by Council Vice President Michael Blue would clarify some language in the Charter when it comes to collective bargaining with Career Fire Fighters. He says it states  that the Council is the sole authority when it comes to spending taxpayer money.

A public hearing on these amendments is scheduled for next Thursday, July 21st beginning at 7:00 PM.

By Kevin McManus