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Charter board requests $25,000

Money would pay for outreach, document draft

Meg Tully
Frederick News-Post Staff

(7/2) The Frederick County Charter Board is asking for $25,000 in county funding to do public outreach and hire an expert to draft the document.

The board is responsible for drafting a charter, much like a constitution for a new local government structure, to put before voters as a referendum question in the Nov. 6, 2012, election.

The Frederick County Commissioners appointed the board. A petition effort failed in May to garner enough valid signatures to elect a new board to write the charter. A legal challenge is still pending on whether the Board of Elections acted properly in its determination of whether the signatures were valid.

In the meantime, the appointed board is continuing its work.

Chairman Ken Coffey told the commissioners Thursday the board is requesting up to $25,000, but he hopes the actual expense would be less. The commissioners will discuss the matter again July 14.

Coffey said that the board would like to host public outreach meetings throughout the county and advertise through local media to promote them.

The board has already been meeting with smaller community groups but wants to take it a step further, he said.

"We really feel strongly as a board that we ought to try our best to get out to these different regions to learn about what this process is and what it means to the people of the county," Coffey said.

The board also hopes to hire an expert to draft the document itself, even though three of its members are lawyers.

Coffey estimates hiring such an expert would cost about $12,000.

Commissioner Paul Smith asked whether such an expense is necessary, because several members of the board have the ability to draft it.

"I will do them a favor by not mentioning their names," Smith said.

Commissioners President Blaine Young said that the members of the board are volunteering their time and service.

"This part will be somewhat onerous, but more importantly they wanted to keep this to a third party," Young said.

The commissioners joked that no one wanted to be known as the primary drafter of the document, as Thomas Jefferson is known as the author of the Declaration of Independence.

Read other articles related to the Charter Writing Initiative