Positions: Government

I. GOVERNMENT

Support for County Government that is economical, efficient and responsive to the needs of all citizens.  (Study, 1963)

 

CHARTER PROVISIONS

Support for:

1.     an elected County Executive with a 3 year residency requirement.

2.     a 5-member County Council; 1-year county residency requirement with 6 months in the district; at-large selection which best meets the current needs of Howard County; permitting State employees to serve on the Council unless there is a substantial conflict of interest.

3.     advisory boards and commissions with appointments made in accordance with the 1968 Charter; boards and commissions meeting at times which permit maximum participation of interested and affected parties

  1. transparency in the appointment process of boards and commissions through timely and accessible vacancy notices and information about candidates’ qualifications. (2011)

  2. transparency in the operations of boards and commissions through open meetings and readily and publicly available documentation, including meeting notices, agendas, minutes, and decisions/results. (2011)

  3. regular evaluation of the effectiveness of boards and commissions to assess whether or not they: (2011)

    1. regularly hold meetings and have a quorum

    2. take action which results in a change, activity or improved situation

    3. advocate for board functions, funding in board’s area of expertise, and, if applicable,  General Plan policy change

    4. make a list/description of accomplishments readily available

4.     a petition and referendum method for altering the Charter to be used only as a last resort. (1966, 1967)

COUNTY COUNCIL TERMS

Opposes term limitations for members of the County Council for the following reasons:

1.     Elections provide the best means for limiting terms.

2.     Limiting terms of office restricts voters’ rights and voters’ participation.

3.     Term limitations do not guarantee good legislation.

4.     Council members ineligible for re-election have no incentive to be responsive to the public interest.

5.     Term limits could effect an imbalance of power between the Council and the Executive. (1993)

BUDGET PROVISIONS

Support for:

1.     publicity for all departmental requests and for the budget process. (1972)

2.     budget priorities which identify the level of services and consider the needs of a diverse population. (1973)

3.     the use of general funds rather than fees for basic county services, such as police, fire protection and ambulance service, trash pick-up and disposal, and recreation facilities.  The trend of substituting fees to pay the cost of basic county services in place of general fund revenue from taxation should be discontinued or rolled back. (1998)

OTHER PROVISIONS

Support for:

1.     maintaining and strengthening inter-departmental and inter-governmental communications, including publication and dispersal of agendas and minutes of public meetings and hearings.

2.     a single source of demographic information; the sharing of management tools. (1973)

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Support for:

1.     economic development activity in Howard County that promotes jobs for residents and ensures a business property tax base to retain and enhance the quality of life.  The focus of incentives for businesses must be to ensure jobs for residents, furnish a substantial tax contribution, and provide a net benefit to the county.

2.     an Economic Development Authority Board representing a cross section of disciplines, e.g., education, planning, heath, transportation and citizens as well as business representation.

3.     an Economic Development Plan which outlines specific long range goals and strategies, developed in an open process to reflect citizen opinion with the option of consulting with other jurisdictions and professional experts; the Plan should be reviewed annually; the Plan should be recommended to the County Executive for final adoption by the County Council.

4.     a Plan that focuses on ensuring the continued quality of life by coordinating the rate of commercial and industrial growth with infrastructure capacity to absorb that growth. (1997)

Opposition to:

1.     the use of business tax credits except in times of a poor economic climate.  If tax credits are granted they should not discriminate against small or existing businesses.  Tax credits could be offered for the hiring of special populations such as people with disabilities or people on welfare. (1998)

JURY SELECTION

Support for:

1.     development of policies educating citizens to assume their responsibility of serving on juries.

2.     jury service qualifications as contained in the Maryland Annotated Code including:

       a.     U.S. citizenship and residency in county where the court is located.

       b.     minimum age of eighteen.

       c.     ability to read, write, communicate and understand the English language.

       d.     physical and mental competence.

3.     the use of a combination of the voter registration list and the Motor Vehicle Administration’s (MVA) list of licensed drivers and ID card holders as the source for jury selection

4.     expanding citizen participation, willingness to serve, and reducing hardships of services by:

       a.     a three year exemption, once summoned; and a five year exemption for jury trial service.

       b.     the goal of jury service of either one day or one trial.

5.     assurance of provisions to accommodate competent disabled citizens so as to enable their opportunity to serve on juries. (1992) (Jury position reviewed 2003)

ETHICS

Support for the ethics, conflict of interest and financial disclosure laws and practices in Howard County.

1.     Potential appointees to the Ethics Commission should demonstrate an interest and involvement in government and county affairs.  The county administration should provide public notice of vacancies with some description of duties and responsibilities.  Such notice should be not limited to posting on the county’s website and cable TV channel, and sent to local newspapers for publication. (2008)

2.     Members of all public boards and commissions which have final or significant influence on policy and legislative decisions should file financial disclosure statements. (2008)

3.     The Ethics Commission should assume a proactive role by:

       a.     conducting an information and education program for the general public.

       b.     informing those under its jurisdiction of the provisions of the ethics law and requiring them to conform to it.  These include county officials, county employees, members of boards and commissions and lobbyists as defined by Howard County PUBLIC ETHICS, Subtitle 2, Ethics, Sec. 22.202. Definitions., (j), (1) – (3).

       c.     publicizing its meeting(s)  and adhering to a scheduled meeting date

       d.     issuing an annual report including a list of registered lobbyists.(2008)

MUNICIPAL INCORPORATION CRITERIA

Support for using the following criteria to evaluate any proposal for Municipal Incorporation within Howard County.

1.     Would a proposed incorporation create enclaves of unincorporated area(s)?  If so, what would the legal requirements be to annex these enclaves?

2.     Would proposed municipal functions replace services currently provided by the county?

       a.     If so, how would the reduced expenditure for the county government compare with the reduction in revenues for the county?

       b.     If not, what would be the fiscal impact on the county government and on taxpayers both inside and outside the proposed municipality?

       c.     State law provides that Howard County may not impose a tax for any service which a municipality provides, a fact which must be considered in the evaluation of effect on county revenues.

3.     Are there identified needs for services which are not currently being provided by the county?  if so, can these services be provided by the municipality and are they proposed to be provided?

4.     Is there an anticipated duplication of services by the county and the proposed municipality?  If so, what is the anticipated increase in total cost to taxpayers?

5.     Would municipal government be more responsive to residents?

6.     The following factors would be considered in evaluating any incorporation proposal:

       a.     State law provides that only residents or property owners in the area to be incorporated have the right to vote on incorporation, even though incorporation might affect services and tax rates for the entire county.

       b.     Is the possibility of assumption of planning and zoning powers desirable or not?

       c.     Is the power of a municipality to abrogate existing or future county laws desirable?

       d.    A determination should be made as to the comparative ease with which a municipal charter may be amended, with voter approval not being automatically required.

NOTE:    If the proposal is to establish Columbia as a municipality, the following additional criteria must apply:

1.     With regard to Columbia Association services and facilities:

       a.     What responsibilities of the Columbia Association (CA) are to be replaced by municipal services?

       b.     What Columbia Association (CA) facilities and properties would be assumed by the municipality?

2.     Would the projected cost of providing these services and those retained by CA equal or exceed the current cost of services provided by CA?

3.     Does the proposed charter include a property tax limit, as is currently in the law for CA and would the law be changed to lower the CA assessment limit?

4.     Can the first lien on all Columbia properties be removed?

5.     Is there a way to guarantee that CA will be relieved of responsibilities the municipality intends to assume or could assume?

6.     What continuing revenue must be generated by the CA lien to pay debt services which cannot or is not proposed to be assumed by the municipality?

7.     Would the incorporated municipality include all parcels which pay the Columbia assessment?

8.     Examine the current federal income tax law to determine if property taxes imposed by the municipality would be deductible.

9.     Incorporation of the Columbia Villages would apply the “one person-one vote” rule to voting for all municipal officials. (1996)

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