Why this is important, and how it will affect your wallet.
This article has been brought to you by Informed Carroll County.
Up until now, the Board of Carroll Commissioners (BOCC) has traditionally elected a new president annually before entering the new year. A look back on past presidential appointments the last 13 years shows that the votes typically occurred in December.
But 2023 is different as commissioners Joe Vigliotti, Ken Kiler, Tom Gordon, Mike Guerin and Ed Rothstein enter their 8th week in elected office without a leader.
Many in the community are questioning whether the BOCC intends to officially appoint a new president, and who that might be.
The role of president is vitally important to a functioning board. Aside from conducting meetings and representing the county on the board’s behalf in certain capacities, the position has historically been influential in setting the agenda and priorities for the county.
The vacancy behind the chief executive role is particularly concerning as the commissioners take on the difficult task of balancing an upside-down budget and entertain tax increases at a time when inflation continues to drive up the cost of living for everyday Carroll Countians.
The government organizational chart on the Carroll County website, dated as of December 18th, 2022, continues to show Ed Rothstein as president, who served as president on the prior board starting January 2021. However, there’s no public record indicating a vote for the 2023 president occurred.
Does this mean that Ed Rothstein has assumed the presidency for a third year in a row, absent a vote from the newly elected board? It’s hard to tell, and it has led to lots of speculation from the community.
Moreover, Informed Carroll could not locate bylaws for the commissioner board or any documentation in the county code that outlines the roles and responsibilities of board officers and how they are to be nominated.
Contrast this with the Carroll County Board of Education, where the BOE promptly elected Marsha Herbert and Tara Battaglia as their president and vice president respectively. This is because the bylaws (handbook) published on the CCPS website require the BOE to appoint officers annually in December as their first order of business. The handbook also outlines the powers of the president and VP roles.
The BOE handbook also has built-in transparency that requires board members to publicly vote for the executive positions. While the policy can lead to difficult discussions and embarrassing moments out in the open, such as BOE member Patrcia Dorsey nominating herself for VP with no support from her fellow colleagues, it ensures these important decisions are made out in the open.
Considering that BOE members make $16,000 annually – $34 thousand less than a commissioner’s $50,000 salary – it’s hard to understand why the standards by which the BOE operate are set so much higher.
Then again, the vagueness behind the BOCC officer roles, their powers, and how they’re appointed, could be by design.
Ultimately, this leaves the Carroll County taxpayer vulnerable. As the commissioners head into critical discussions concerning Carroll County’s budget and contemplate raising taxes, we have:
- No officially elected officers for 2023.
- No bylaws that define the limiting powers of these officers.
- Ed Rothstein, who over the last 4 years worked to create the upside-down budget our county inherited, unofficially presiding over critically important budgeting meetings.
One thing’s for sure: Changes in how the commissioners conduct business are a must in order to achieve true transparency. We cannot let the shadowy practices and fiscal irresponsibility of the prior board continue. That means Ed Rothstein stepping aside, and the board publicly voting for one of the four 1st term commissioners as president.