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County task force to study code home rule

September 14, 2005|by TARA REILLY

Washington County Director of Emergency Services Joe Kroboth will chair a task force created by the County Commissioners to study a possible move to code home rule government in the county.

The task force will consist of a member from each of the League of Women Voters of Washington County, Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Hagerstown Committee. Two citizens will be appointed by the commissioners and one person will be appointed by the Washington County Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly. County Attorney John Martirano will serve as the legal representative.

The county currently operates under a commission form of government.

Code home rule would give the County Commissioners the power to enact, amend or repeal public local law through a resolution without prior state legislative approval.

They could not enact any new tax, license fee or franchise fee without state legislative approval under code home rule.

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Another type of home rule, charter home rule, is not being considering by the commissioners.

A charter home rule government does not need state authority to create laws or levy new taxes, and the powers and duties of the commissioners are defined by a county charter.

Under the commission form of government in place now, local laws must be approved by the state before the county can enact them.

The task force is to have a recommendation to the commissioners Dec. 6. A daytime public hearing will be held Jan. 10, 2006, and an evening public hearing will be held Feb. 7.

The commissioners are expected to vote on whether to support code home rule Feb. 14. The matter would be put on the ballot in the next election and voted on by county residents.

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