Local Decisions on Local Issues
As Frederick County citizens we know best how to shape the future of our County. However, our current “commissioner” form of government gives us little say over County issues. We must turn over decision-making power on local issues to the Maryland General Assembly, instead of keeping it within our own County government. As a result, we must regularly look to Annapolis for decisions on matters that we could be deciding on our own.
The Maryland Constitution allows us to upgrade our form of government to improve accountability and exercise more local authority through a “Charter Home Rule” form of government. In 2011, a nine-member volunteer Charter Board convened to draft a Home Rule Charter for Frederick County. They completed their work in July and presented a draft Charter to residents for review and approval. That Charter will be put before the voters of Frederick County for approval or disapproval in the November 2012 general election as Question A.
Protecting Our Way of Life
Frederick County is a great place to live. To keep it that way, while best managing the inevitable challenges that lie ahead, we need a government vested with the authority to make decisions that reflect our values and our priorities.
The proposed Charter would replace our 5 member “government by committee” Board of County Commissioners, with a County Executive and Council. Proponents of the Charter argue that this form of government will allow our elected officials to be held accountable for results and carry out most local decisions efficiently without having to seek approval from Annapolis and legislators from other counties. Opponents of the Charter believe there is no problem with the current system.
Forms of Local Government
There are three forms of county government in Maryland.
The Commissioner form of government operates in Frederick County today with its Board of County Commissioners. It is the oldest form of government. Only 7 counties still have commission government, as it is more appropriate for smaller populations. It is the lowest form of home rule with very little authority to make decisions without permission from Annapolis.
Six counties have a Code Home Rule form of government. This form allows for more autonomy from the State capitol than Commission but does not provide a balance of power.
Charter is the purest form of home rule and provides the greatest amount of autonomy from Annapolis. It also balances power through checks and balances with the creation of a separate legislative branch (County Council) and an executive branch (County Executive). Ten counties have Charter Home Rule including Harford, Howard and Cecil.
Maryland Association of Counties – Forms of Government