Council Confirms Contract Bill Despite Veto

SALISBURY – County leaders this week voted to reaffirm a legislative bill vetoed by the county executive that would require certain leases and contracts to be approved by the county council.

On Tuesday, the Wicomico County Council voted to reaffirm a legislative bill that was vetoed by County Executive Bob Culver.

The legislative bill, adopted on Nov. 6, requires multi-year leases or contracts exceeding $50,000 to be reviewed and approved by the county council. Council approval, however, can be waived at the written request of the county executive.

“To better exercise its oversight function in setting the county’s budget and to aid in maintaining good government it is appropriate for the council to review and approve any lease and other contractual obligation that might during its initial or extended term obligate the county for substantial performance based payments in future fiscal years …,” the bill reads.

Late last month, however, Culver returned the bill back to the council with his veto. In a letter sent to the council, Culver said the legislation was redundant.

“It is my feeling this legislation is unnecessary,” he said.

Culver highlighted an existing section of the county’s charter that established controls for the appropriation of funds. He added the new legislation would also burden county administration.

“Additionally, the legislation places unnecessary administrative burdens on the executive branch and as drafted is ambiguous and subject to differing interpretations,” he said.

On the agenda for reconsideration this week, Councilman Marc Kilmer said the new legislation was created to codify what was already in the charter. However, he questioned if council approval for certain leases and contracts was required in other jurisdictions.

“Is this common in other counties?” he asked.

Council attorney Bob Taylor said similar legislation can be found in various counties throughout Maryland.

“Most counties have some provision or review of contracts by council,” he said. “Sometimes it’s based on amount, or over a certain amount, or on a certain type of contract. But yes, it is not unusual to see this in other counties.”

With no further discussion, the council voted unanimously to reaffirm the legislative bill.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.