Ott said if a county executive wants to spend more money than the commissioners want spent, the executive may ask: "What would you cut?"

"Then immediately we get into doing his job. When the executive brings us the budget, the purpose isn't for us to second-guess every line item. Our job is to set policy."

Ott said the county executive is responsible for determining the spending priorities and commissioners are responsible for determining the tax rate.

Losing veto power

In response to a question by Commissioner David Jones, Schware acknowledged his proposal would nullify the county executive's ability to veto a budget adopted by the commissioners. That veto power is given to the county executive in the current home rule charter.

Said Jones: "This conceivably takes out the balance of power between the executive branch and the legislative branch."

Jones expressed concern about the county executive losing the veto, saying losing that "weapon" puts the executive at a disadvantage.

Said Schware: "I see it more as a leveling of the playing field, rather than giving advantage to one person or another."

Said Jones: "What we're proposing takes away veto power from somebody that has been elected by the taxpayers. That's a main concern for me."

Resident Joe Hilliard weighed in, saying he is a fiscal conservative who supports Schware's proposal.

"This has to be heavy-handed," declared Hilliard. "Between County Executive [Jane] Ervin and County Executive [Don] Cunningham, our property tax rates have doubled by executive order. I can't even see how that's legal."

Saying those tax hikes were not approved by county commissioners, Hilliard asked: "Are we under the burden of two illegally enacted taxes? I guarantee you if this happens again there will be some legal challenges. You, the legislature, have to affirmatively say 'we need to raise taxes'."

Commissioners said a 70 percent county tax increase was enacted in 2002 and a 16 percent increase was enacted in 2010.