St. Mary’s Moves Closer to Code Home Rule

St. Mary’s County government might be moving toward the code home rule as the form of local government. The commissioners of St. Mary’s County voted unanimously to hold public hearings about the move to code home rule.

According to Southern Maryland Newspapers Online,

The commissioners stressed that it is not a move toward charter government, which entails a county council and county executive.

Code home rule keeps the five county commissioners, but gives the board more local authority. Many local laws do not need approval from the Maryland General Assembly under code home rule.

St. Mary’s County is one of six jurisdictions in Maryland still using the county commissioner form of government. Six other Maryland counties use code home rule: Charles, Allegany, Caroline, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Worcester.

The remaining county governments in the state use charter government.

For St. Mary’s County to move toward code home rule, at least two public hearings would be required, George Sparling, county attorney, said.

However, the commissioners agreed to hold public hearings at each of the volunteer departments in St. Mary’s. There are firehouses in Leonardtown, Mechanicsville, Lexington Park, Ridge, Avenue, Valley Lee and Hollywood.

Sixty days after public hearings, the commissioners could vote on the move to code home rule. To pass, four of five votes would be needed to meet the two-thirds majority. A resolution would be adopted and sent to the board of elections to put the matter up for public referendum, perhaps as early as the general election on Nov. 8, 2016.

“If it was successfully voted upon by the citizens, the county would become a code home rule county in 30 days after the certification of the election results,” Sparling said recently.

The change could become effective with the current commissioners as soon as Dec. 8, 2016.

To read the full article on St. Mary’s County, please visit Southern Maryland Newspapers Online.


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