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Charter plan troublesome

November 1, 2012
The Leader Herald

Changing the government in Montgomery County brings up some troubling concerns. The charter proponents claim the switch to a charter will be budget-neutral. Remind me then, why do we want to do this? Because it will make government more efficient? Ignoring the oxymoron, efficient for whom? The county executive? The department heads? The legislature? The towns and their supervisors? The voter/taxpayer? Let's look at each.

The county executive gets to run the county on a day-to-day basis, makes virtually all the appointments, and tells each of the 21 departments how they will be structured and run. All this with the blessing of the legislature.

The department heads will only have one boss instead of 15, as now claimed.

The legislators, now nine instead of 15, will have larger districts to try to represent, some with more than one village. The committee system probably will be a casualty of the charter. With little structure to hash stuff out before a vote, the legislators, by default, will look to the county executive for more information and direction.

The towns and the supervisors will find themselves competing with others in their district for information and maybe even services. Remember, requests and concerns will have to go through the legislator to get the county executive's attention.

And lastly, the voters/taxpayers will find themselves two layers of government away from the one that ultimately makes the decisions. The legislature will end up as a buffer between the taxpayer and the executive because, remember, it is the legislators' job to make the county government run better, not the towns. The proponents espouse the theory that going to the charter will separate the county government from the towns and make the county government more effective and productive.

But wait, isn't the county made up of the towns? Isn't the county's job to work for the towns and the people in them? How do you separate the two? The county government may appear more efficient, but what about the towns that make up the county? Is this an example of trickle-down management where those of us at the bottom get the crumbs of the change?

By all means, read the charter, but don't look for answers to these concerns in that document. Then vote on Election Day.





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