- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The Charles County commissioners no longer need a unanimous vote to set an agenda.
On Tuesday, the board passed a resolution reversing part of an earlier one whose language, requiring “full board” approval for many functions, mandated unanimous votes before almost anything could get done, according to the interpretation of County Attorney Barbara L. Holtz.
The new resolution, No. 2012-21, changed the wording to a “majority of the board,” or a simple majority vote.
The resolution, which passed 5-0, also restored commissioners’ President Candice Quinn Kelly’s authority to sign off on routine county government expenditures, which a majority of the board had canceled on April 10, and restored senior county staff members’ authority to make some fiscal decisions on their own.
Kelly (D) said she has gotten to work addressing a backlog that built up while she was unable to approve expenditures.
“I’m looking at a folder that’s about two inches thick with documents that had to be signed in open session [before], which would have been rather lengthy, very much like watching paint dry,” she said.
“Other issues” with the first resolution will have to be addressed in mediation now that the board members have voted to hire a professional to help them work out their conflicts, she said.
Commissioner Ken Robinson (D), who has supported Kelly, said the new resolution made “major changes” and will benefit the government.
“I think that what took place on Tuesday is addressing the unintended consequence of 20-18, and that was obvious by witnessing the meeting yesterday. It ran a lot smoother than the previous Tuesday. And it also seemed to be backing off in a lot of ways on 20-18,” he said.
On the contrary, the changes were intended to “strengthen” Resolution 2012-18, which stripped Kelly of many of her powers, said Commissioner Debra M. Davis (D). She wrote and introduced the earlier resolution, which passed 3-2.
“What you heard last Tuesday [April 17] was there [were] some questions about how strong it was, the first one, 18 was, and so we asked legal to firm it up, strengthen it and bring it up. … Eighteen is still in business. It’s actually, in light of the legal challenge, it made sense to strengthen it,” Davis said. She referred to a lawsuit seeking to prevent the enforcement of Resolution 2012-18 that Kelly’s attorneys have drafted but not filed.
Restoring Kelly’s fiscal powers made sense, said Commissioner Reuben B. Collins II (D), who originally voted to curtail them.
“I will always recognize there is a certain level where the commissioners’ president, certainly signing off on things that have a financial impact, where the commissioners’ president is given some latitude. Just like the county administrator, they’re given latitude to make some decisions. That’s never really been an issue as far as I’m concerned,” Collins said.
The new resolution was “a good start yesterday,” Commissioner Bobby Rucci (D), who voted with Collins and Davis, said Wednesday.
Davis said the change could lighten the commissioners’ load during meetings, but questioned whether administrative duties needed to take as long as Kelly suggested.
“If you sat in that last [April 17] meeting, when we sat there looking at $500 contracts, $1,500 contracts, in my opinion it didn’t have to slow down the government but it was slowing down the government,” she said. “I don’t know whether that was intentional or not. And so that’s one thing that we did that was a weakness, that was one thing that would keep us going until we could mediate. We wouldn’t be continually bogged down with minutiae and attempts to make us look foolish.”