Two Frederick County Charter Amendments To Go To The Voters In November

One amendment covers the removal of department heads.

Frederick, Md (KM) Two amendments to Frederick County’s charter will go to the voters for a decision in November following  a vote by the County Council on Tuesday.

One of the amendments which generated a lot of discussion would allow the Council to remove a department director, or agency or office head with at least five votes by Council members after a public hearing. It’s sponsored by Councilman Mason Carter. “It’s very seldomly should local government or county governments to look to the federal government for guidance on how to operate. However, this amendment would align our powers with federal impeachment powers,:” he said.

Councilwoman Renee Knapp said she’s concerned about comparing this process to “impeachment.” “So I thought it was interesting that you mentioned impeachment because I haven’t thought of that. That’s a very political process. How do you sort of reconcile that between a personnel issue, or qualifications,”: she said,.

Even though she voted to send the amendment to the voters for a decision, Knapp said she would not vote for this amendment in the general election.

Also having some concerns was Councilwoman M.C Keegan-Ayer, especially if a majority on the Council and the County Executive are of different political parties. “I think this is opening up a  Pandora’s box that the Council could be used as a weapon to drive an agenda that was different from the County Executive’s agenda with staff,” she said.

Councilman Carter further explained his amendment. “It’s not being forwarded with the intention to remove any sitting or serving department head. But rather just to serve as another tool in the toolbox which we hopefully  don’t have to use,” he said.

His colleague, Councilman Steve McKay, expressed support. “It’s hard for me to imagine when or under what circumstances that could be used,”: he said. “But by the same token, I don’t disagree with the Council having the authority.”

The Council voted 5-2 to take this amendment to the voters during the general election on November 5th. Councilmembers Jerry Donald and M.C.  Keagan-Ayer voted “no.”

In a unanimous vote, the Council decided to take a charter amendment to the voters  that says the Council will hold a public hearing on any supplemental appropriations to the general fund in excess of $1 million.

But Councilmembers voted down an amendment offering fringe benefits to  those who sit on the Council in addition to their salaries, and another amendment covering the conditions of  removing  a councilmember from office.

Council Vice President Kavonte Duckett withdrew an amendment covering the election of Council Officers.

The two amendments voted on favorably by the Council will be put before the voters in a referendum for the general election on November 5th, and on early voting and mail in ballots. .

By Kevin McManus