Charter changes OK given government’s improvements -- Gazette.Net



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Two proposed charter amendments on the Prince George’s County ballot seek to shorten the process for county redistricting and handling multiyear contracts.

Both proposals seem to improve efficiency, but the county’s history of corruption and reputation for blocking public input make the ballot questions a concern.

Question A requests authorization to alter the redistricting approval process. Currently, if the county government chooses to alter the redistricting plan — which is reviewed every 10 years — it requires at least three public readings of the measure, which can take about six weeks to complete, and another 45 days to be implemented. The amendment would lessen the requirements to two readings, cutting the timeline in half.

Question B would allow the county government to approve multiyear contracts of more than $500,000 through a resolution, which takes about three weeks to pass, instead of allowing approval through an act, which requires three readings and can take up to about six weeks. The change would allow county government to work quickly and more efficiently with businesses, officials said.

County officials insist the streamlined procedures will still allow for plenty of public input while speeding up the process.

The answer for voters hinges largely on whether they trust that officials truly have moved toward a more open government and will ensure the processes still allow for strong input — or if this merely is a tactic to lessen residents’ involvement.

In the past two years, however, county leaders have made a concerted effort to be more inclusive and create systems to root out corruption. As a result of their progress and the efficiencies both amendments would create, both should be approved.