Harford County Council Votes to Make Deputy Directors “Exempt”

As reported by the Baltimore Sun, the Harford County Council approved a proposed charter amendment to remove job protections for deputy county department heads, even though several department heads and residents decried the change as overtly political and potentially destabilizing.

The proposal, which would to change a deputy director’s employment status from classified to exempt, passed by a 6-1 vote Tuesday night. . . The proposed amendment must still be approved by voters in November’s general election. If adopted, deputy directors would serve at the pleasure of the county executive, making them patronage employees, just like their bosses.

The Harford County Council President Billy Boniface released a statement regarding the benefits of the change in type of employment, saying that the amendment “will create more transparency in the selection process and increase accountability of those appointed to carry out their duties.”

County Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti expressed her opposition to the amendment.

Lisanti said she knows how hard it is to make decisions that are not political, and career service government employees are “the people you rely on every single day…to enforce the laws, whether they like them or not.”

“The idea of making these positions suddenly exempt and thrown into a world of politics is just bad business,” she said. “I am not casting any disparity upon anyone that is appointed or receives their job on their merit or professional skills, but I think this is ill-advised, just the wrong way to proceed.”

For more information, see the full story from the Sun.