Fact vs. Fiction
Myth: Charter government is more expensive government
Fact: There is no valid connection between the structure of a government and its cost. Cost has more to do with who is elected to office and the choices they make than the form of government adopted by the county. We do know that a County Executive under Charter Home Rule will be able to set clear priorities for the County and run the government more efficiently through sound management principles. In fact, a recent survey found that, by almost two-to-one, voters believe that an elected county executive would be able to set clear priorities and run the county more efficiently through good management than the current commissioner structure.
Harford County has had Charter government since 1972 and has 10,000 more residents. Yet, Harford’s has 700 fewer government employees than Frederick County. Harford County’s Charter government spells out clear lines of authority that improve efficiency, accountability, and transparency.
Myth: Charter Government puts people with little experience at the helm
Fact: Since the voters are the ones who will put the County Executive and County Council in office, they will be able to decide who is best suited for those positions.
Myth: The current system works well
Fact: The current system does not work well. Frederick County citizens deserve much more than the limitations of the current commissioner form of government.
Myth: Charter places too much control in the hands of one person
Fact: Nothing could be farther from the truth. Where the current form of government offers no checks and balances and has only one branch of government, Charter Home Rule establishes two branches of government - legislative and executive – so that no single branch has too much power.
Myth: Charter just adds another costly layer of government
Fact: Under Charter, a County Executive will be in place to manage County affairs, set clear priorities and run the County more efficiently through good management. In fact, a recent survey found that, by almost two-to-one, voters believe that an elected county executive would be able to set clear priorities and run the county more efficiently through good management than the current commissioner structure.
Myth: The proposed structure of the County Council will create a heavily political atmosphere where gerrymandering will rule over drawing new district lines every 10 years
Fact: The Charter Board very wisely required that the redistricting commission membership include independent voters, to provide balance with the political parties.
Myth: Charter will make us just like Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
Fact: Comparing Frederick County to the larger jurisdictions like Baltimore or Montgomery County is like comparing apples to pencil sharpeners. They have absolutely nothing in common! However, Harford and Howard counties are closer to Frederick in size. They are both Charter counties and are run very well.
Myth: People won’t vote for Charter because they don’t like the hybrid structure of the County Council. They are used to voting for 5 at-large seats and won’t understand the change.
Fact: That statement underestimates the intelligence of County voters, who are fully capable of understanding any structure that is established. This argument is pure “inside baseball.” The average voter does not have a strong position on Council structure. What voters do care about is that Charter brings greater accountability and a much needed system of checks and balances to our government.
In fact, a recent poll showed that there is no mandate from voters on how a County Council should be structured. Voters are almost evenly split between electing county council members by district, countywide, and having no opinion. 28% prefer elections by district, 32% prefer county-wide, and 34% said it doesn’t make much difference.