Frederick County Council finalized two of its recommendations for the state delegation to the Maryland General Assembly in January on Tuesday.
The recommendations are part of the county legislative package, which will include initiatives from county executive Jan Gardner (D) and may include proposals from community organizations.
Next week, council will reconsider a third recommendation, from City Councilor Jessica Fitzwater (D), asking the Frederick County delegation to support the Climate Solutions Now Act, sections of which were passed in the 2021 session, but most of which could return to Annapolis in some form in the next session.
Republican board members Steve McKay and Phil Dacey specifically opposed support for the Climate Solutions Now Act, and board chairman MC Keegan-Ayer (R) asked Fitzwater to make the statement a more generic request for support climate legislation which, according to the chairman of the board, will likely come before the legislator.
If the board approves Fitzwater’s amended proposal next week, it will be added to the organization’s recommendations.
Among the council’s finalized recommendations is a McKay proposal that would change the process by which vacancies are filled in the county school board.
Currently, the county executive appoints a replacement who serves until the end of the current term. McKay’s proposal would include vacancies on the Education Council on the ballots in the election closest to the vacancy occurring, giving voters the floor before term expires. A person appointed by the county executive would always fill the vacant seat before the election.
The proposal will return to Annapolis for the third time, according to county government affairs director Joy Schaefer, hence the county delegation – made up of the senses. Ron Young (R) and Michael Hough (R) and six delegates – will likely be familiar with the concerns of their colleagues which have prevented legislation from becoming law in previous years.
Schaefer thought the proposal had a good chance of becoming law last year, but the rapid pace of the 2021 session due to the pandemic has prevented county officials from addressing lawmakers’ concerns in time for it to be passed. adopted, she said.
None of the county’s initiatives were passed in the last legislative session, but two were passed in 2020, Schaefer said in an email. The first gave the county the authority to make grants to eligible elderly or disabled tenants and the second increased compensation for members of the Board of Education, according to official documents.
County officials are hoping that another proposal to return to Annapolis, from City Councilor Jerry Donald (D), will clear up confusion about the constant return tax rate – a property tax rate that, when combined to assessments, ensures that a tax authority receives the same income in the years to come. tax year, it did so in the previous one, according to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.
If the county’s constant rate of return remains unchanged and the department determines that a property’s value has increased, the county’s tax bill also increases. State law requires the county to call this a tax increase, despite the rate not changing, according to county documents. Donald’s proposal would give county officials the power to change the wording.
Absent from the council’s recommendations, a Fitzwater proposal would have added Frederick County to a list of counties in which structures used for agri-tourism – which includes a variety of activities conducted on a farm and offered to the public or to groups. guests – are exempt. certain construction and public safety requirements.
Fitzwater’s decision came after council heard permit and fire and rescue personnel explain how the proposal would limit the county’s ability to enforce public safety requirements. The adviser’s initial intention was to support farmers and increase their agrotourism opportunities, she told The News-Post, but concluded that the plan would not accomplish what she hoped for. .
Members of the public will have the opportunity at a town hall on October 13 to comment on the recommendations of the council. Before that, Gardner will release additional proposals that it plans to include in the county’s legislative package.
The finished package will be sent back to council for approval before Gardner finally presents it to the county delegation in November.
Follow Jack Hogan on Twitter: @jckhogan