The following is a press release distributed today by the Frederick County Government regarding the recent petition to hold a special election to appoint an alternative Charter Board.
Organizers of a petition drive delivered 2,864 signatures at 11:36 a.m. today to Winchester Hall, the seat of county government. Administrative Officer Joyce Grossnickle received the petition on behalf of the Frederick Board of County Commissioners. The petition seeks a special election to choose an alternate Charter Board than the one selected by the county commissioners on March 10, 2011.
The Frederick County Board of Elections estimates that such a special election will cost Frederick County taxpayers more than $250,000. That dollar amount includes costs for the state of Maryland to provide transportation of the voting machines (estimated at over $20,000 alone) and technical support and service to the county, before, during and after the election.
Board President Blaine Young said, “We continue to oppose such a costly special election to elect Charter Board members. While our citizens have a right to petition government, the cost of a quarter of a million dollars for a special election would be an outrageous raid on Frederick County taxpayers’ pocketbooks.
“This Board of County Commissioners unanimously appointed a diverse and professional Charter Board through a very open and public process. The members have already been meeting in open, televised sessions and have been seeking public feedback in the drafting of a proposed constitution to alter our county’s form of government to the Charter format. We feel it would be very unfortunate to have a special election at this time and derail the hard work and progress these fully autonomous volunteers have already made.
“Our democratic process would be better served by allowing our citizens to have a chance to voice their opinions about the Charter form of government in the November 2012 General Election at no additional cost to the taxpayers.”
Upon delivery of the petition, the Board of Elections initiated a verification process as determined by state law. Every person who signed the petition must be a resident of Frederick County and a registered voter.Elections officials estimate they will complete the process in approximately one week.
If the petition is declared valid, the Board of County Commissioners must call for a special election to take place no sooner than 30 days and no longer than 90 days from the date the petition was received.
A non-partisan ballot would alphabetically list the names of the current nine Charter Board members as well as those eight who are included in the petition. The top nine persons elected by the voters would make up a new Charter Board.
The Charter Board will be authorized to create a charter for Frederick County to change the present form of government. The Charter Board will have up to 18 months to draft a charter for submission to the Board of County Commissioners, and then for a referendum election by the voters of Frederick County. The proposed charter is anticipated to go before the voters at the November 6, 2012, General Election.
The Charter of Frederick County would change the present commissioner form of government to charter home rule government if approved by the voters. The proposed charter document would define the duties, power, rules, procedures, structure of local county government and the rights of voters/citizens.
For additional information on the Charter Board or Charter form of government, visit www.FrederickCountyMD.gov/charter or contact Legislative Coordinator Ragen Cherney at 301-600-1049 or via e-mail at rcherney@FrederickCountyMD.gov.