Anne Arundel Ballot Questions ― To Expand Audits, Council Oversight ― Explained

Photo by Danielle E. Gaines

Although Election Day isn’t until Nov. 3, many Marylanders will be voting early or submitting their ballots by mail for the upcoming General Election. In many of the state’s largest jurisdictions, voters will be met with lengthy ballots and multiple local initiatives to consider. In Anne Arundel County, there are seven ballot issues to be decided by voters.

If you’re still trying to request a mail-in ballot, or want to know how to register to vote, you can check out our guide for voters here.

If you want to find out where to drop off your ballot, or where you can vote in-person this November, you can take a look at our interactive voting center maps here.

Want to see a sample ballot for your county? The State Board of Elections has a list of every approved ballot for the November election on its website.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the ballot questions in Anne Arundel County:

Question A

This charter amendment would strengthen the county auditor’s authority to inspect and investigate records about county funds. Currently, the auditor can see records “pertaining to the receipt and expenditure of funds.” If the amendment passes, the county auditor will also be able to conduct audits and investigations on any office, department, or agency that gets county money.

The amendment would also allow the county auditor to investigate fraud and misuse of county funds.

“If there are accusations of waste, fraud or misuse our auditor should have the full ability to investigate every available avenue. Opening the books so to speak,” Councilwoman Amanda Fiedler (R) said of the resolution last September, according to the Capital Gazette. “As we evolve as a county we have to give our department the proper ability to do their jobs. That’s especially true for the county auditor.”

Question B 

Under this charter amendment, the Anne Arundel County Council would have a say in the county executive’s picks for county attorney, fire chief and police chief. Those appointments would be subject to the county council’s approval if the amendment passes.

The proposal would also allow county council members to vote to prevent the removal of the county attorney, but the council wouldn’t be able to prevent the firing of a county attorney appointed by a previous county executive.

Question C

This measure would remove a limit of 1,500 hours per year for contractual employees. The county’s charter once limited contractual employees to 500 hours annually. The limit was raised twice in the 1980s and then again in the mid-1990s to the current 1,500 cap.

The change would allow the county to expand work hours for some positions ― such as temporary seasonal jobs in the recreation and parks department, where there are more than 800 contractual employees ― without creating full-time positions that include employment benefits.

Question D

This proposed amendment would allow the council to expand the county’s “small procurement” process to include contracts between $25,000 and $100,000. The process requires county departments to solicit three quotes from potential contractors, but does not require a formal bidding process. The county administration said the change could lead to more contracts with smaller local businesses that don’t have the time or expertise to engage in a complex competitive bidding process. In the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years, a total of 25 county contracts would have been affected by the increased threshold, Peter Baron, the county’s director of government relations, told the council this summer.

In the 2018 election, voters approved the threshold increase to $50,000.

Question E

Public safety recruits in Anne Arundel County currently undergo a six-month probationary period when they’re first brought on the county’s police department, fire department, sheriff’s office or department of detention facilities.

This amendment would lengthen that probationary period to the amount of time it takes to complete each department’s training program, plus an additional year for entry-level, full-time public safety recruits. This amendment would also prevent the probationary period from running while a recruit is on paid or unpaid leave that is longer than 80 hours.

Question F

This amendment would double the initial term for an acting head of any office or department within the county from 60 days to 120 days, and allow the county council to extend that term by up to two additional six month periods instead of four months.

Question G 

This amendment would add the county’s human relations commission to the Anne Arundel County Charter. The commission handles housing discrimination complaints and makes recommendations to county officials on human relations issues, including housing equity and prejudice, according to its website.

Danielle E. Gaines contributed to this report.

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Bennett Leckrone
Leckrone is a December 2019 graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. He has interned at The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Columbus Dispatch, PennLive.com, The Dayton Daily News and The Troy Daily News. Leckrone is a Report for America corps member.