Frederick County Council members agreed on language for four potential charter amendments that will be placed on the presidential ballot later this year, that could lead to changes to the county charter.
The county charter is the governing document for Frederick County government, and established the shift from a commissioner form of government—where five commissioners performed the administrative and legislative branches—to charter. The charter, approved by county voters in November 2012, established a county executive and County Council, which perform those two roles as separate branches of government.
Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer (D) said she would sign a resolution for the charter amendments this week. The county’s Board of Elections will work with the County Attorney’s office to finalize the language, and what county voters will see on their ballots this fall.
The four changes being sent to the ballot include lowering the borrowing limits of county government, allowing individual council members to request information from the executive branch for potential legislation or other uses, and implementing a special election process for both vacancies for county executive or the County Council.
The borrowing limits amendment was recommended by County Finance Director Lori Depies and her staff, and would lower those limits from five to three percent of the county’s real property base and from 15 to nine percent of the county’s operating personal property base.
Adopting the second amendment would mean changing the charter’s non-interference clause. Now, the majority of the County Council needs to approve any decision to ask the county executive for information. If voters pass the amendment, individual council members would be able to ask for that information.
The special election amendments were introduced by Councilman Steve McKay (R), and opposed by the charter review commission, the seven-member body that was tasked with reviewing the charter and recommending amendments to put on the ballot. McKay, however, introduced the amendments to the County Council and both passed in 4-3 votes.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.