Thursday, July 27, 2020 – Harford County Executive Mr. Castley shared his experiences and insights on charter government with the Charles County Charter Board in an exclusive meeting.

In a rare and informative discussion, Harford County Executive Mr. Castley addressed the Charles County Charter Board on Thursday, July 27, 2020, sharing his perspective on the advantages and challenges of charter government and its impact on Harford County. The meeting held virtually, allowed the board members to gain valuable insights into how charter government operates in practice and the relationship between the county executive and the council.

The meeting began with a roll call and approval of the minutes from July 13. The board members were then introduced to County Executive Mr. Castley, who graciously spoke about his experiences and offered valuable advice to the Charles County Charter Board.

Mr. Castley, who has extensive experience in town commissioner and county executive roles, emphasized the importance of the executive’s role in representing the county and engaging with the private sector and the state. He highlighted the advantage of having a unifying single voice for the county when dealing with economic development opportunities and engaging with the state government. Mr. Castley’s ability to make decisive decisions as the county executive also allows for a more efficient response to the county’s numerous daily challenges.

One of the topics discussed was the county council’s role and the potential for each council member to have their own staff. Mr. Castley shared that Harford County had transitioned to providing each council member with a full-time staff member. Still, he acknowledged that this decision may not be necessary in every county. He suggested that Charles County could opt for leaner council staff to manage costs while ensuring effective oversight.

Another crucial discussion aspect centered around veto power and its impact on county government. Mr. Castley supported the idea of giving the county executive veto authority, with the council having the ability to override it. He viewed the veto power as an essential check and balance mechanism, ensuring that the executive’s decisions align with the council’s vision and the county’s interests.

Furthermore, the presence of a county council auditor was highlighted as a valuable tool for enhancing transparency and oversight in county operations. Mr. Castley emphasized the importance of having an auditor appointed by the council, independent of the county executive’s office. This arrangement allows the council to delve into specific departments or processes to ensure they function efficiently and in line with its directives.

Cost-saving measures were also discussed, with Mr. Castley advocating for careful consideration of council members’ salaries and staff sizes. He suggested that Charles County could benefit from assessing the role they want their council members to play and deciding on a structure that strikes the right balance between providing oversight and being actively involved in the day-to-day operations.

The meeting with Mr. Castley was an invaluable opportunity for the Charles County Charter Board to gain insights into charter government from someone with firsthand experience in a similar role. The discussions covered various topics, from decision-making processes and cost management to the roles of the executive and council in running an efficient and responsive government.

As the Charles County Charter Board continues its review and exploration of charter government, the insights shared by County Executive Mr. Castley will undoubtedly prove valuable in shaping the future of Charles County’s governance. The board will carefully consider the advantages and challenges highlighted during the meeting as they work toward creating a charter that best serves the residents of Charles County.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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