The following is from the October edition of a monthly column written by Anne Arundel County Councilman Dick Ladd (R-5th District), a resident of the Broadneck peninsula. It is edited by Patch for style.
The 2012 election will soon be here. I hope and strongly encourage all of you to exercise our dearest right—the right to vote.
In addition to our choices for national level office holders, there will be numerous referendum issues to consider: Four state and 15 county issues.
Of the 15 County issues, the first six merit some elaboration, utilizing material from the Office of Law. Those ballot questions would:
- Require the County Executive to submit the County budget at least 60 days before the end of the fiscal year and would require the Council to adopt the Budget by June 15, thereby retaining 45 days to consider the County budget after the State completes its budget.
A vote against the amendment keeps the budget submission date April 15 and the adoption date June 1.
- Revise the provision for removing the County Executive from office to include conviction of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude or misfeasance or malfeasance in office; and would provide, by vote of not less than five members of the County Council, for the forfeiture of post-employment County benefits if convicted of certain crimes.
A vote against will reject adding felony convictions and authority to withhold retirement benefits
- Add specific authority, where none currently exists, for the County Council to remove a County Councilman from office subject to the same terms and conditions established for removing the County Executive.
A vote against will leave the Charter without a specific provision to remove a County Councilman and authority to deny retirement benefits.
- Revise the Charter to permit the County Executive to fill a County Council vacancy (if the Council fails to do so within 30 days) by appointment of a candidate recommended (within 10 days) by the State Central Committee of Anne Arundel County (an elected entity) of the same party as the previous member and who also received at least one vote on the Council’s last ballot roll call vote; if an unaffiliated member, the Executive shall (within 5 days) select from a list of candidates supplied by the Council of candidates who received at least one vote on the Council’s last ballot roll call vote.
A vote against leaves the County without a process to break a deadlocked vote to fill a Council vacancy after 30 days.
- Require the County to establish a non-lapsing fund into which revenues may be appropriated for the sole purpose of paying retiree health care benefits; would allow the County Council to establish, by ordinance, a non-lapsing fund, successor trust and provide for the appointment of trustees with powers and duties of an independent agency of the County similar to the Pension Trust.
A vote against leaves appropriations for retiree health benefits exposed in the County’s general fund.
- Limit the County Executive’s line item veto authority to comprehensive zoning ordinances only.
I did not support placing this provision on the ballot and do not recommend its adoption. I believe that if the County Executive finds it better to line item veto a portion of an ordinance rather than vetoing the entire bill, he or she should have that option. The vote to reject the veto of an entire bill or “line item” requires a 5- vote majority in either case.
The last nine Charter amendments (in sequence) are largely changes to update required processes and practices to reflect current best or better practices. These questions if approved would:
- Start councilmanic terms on the first Monday in December;
- Permit, by majority vote, the Council to recess in August ;
- Require yearly, independent CPA audits of all County financial statements except special taxing districts;
- Require “bond premiums” to be used only for capital improvement financing;
- Increase decennial Charter Review Commission membership from 5 to 7 (one per councilmanic district);
- Establish a limit of two consecutive terms for County Board of Appeals members;
- Establish a limit of two consecutive terms for County Ethics Commission members;
- Clarify that unsigned bills returned by the County Executive to the County Council without comment become law on the 10th day after presentation to the County Executive;
- Permit required budgetary and fiscal copies to be provided electronically or digitally.
Councilman Ladd can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org