By Sen. Roy Dyson

[ Senator Dyson's Newletter ]

Should some elected officials in St. Mary's County get raises next year? That's a question that would need to be answered by the legislators now or the salaries of several positions will be frozen for the next four years.

Recently I was approached by several elected officials asking for us to consider a raise for whoever is in their position after the next election. At various times in the past the county commissioners have formed a committee to review salaries and make recommendations to us. In order to be responsive to the request my office, on behalf of the delegation, asked the commissioners if they would like to do the same thing again. For whatever reason, they declined the request.

Again, in an attempt to be responsive to the request, the delegation has decided to appoint a committee which will look at the current salaries and job requirements, compare them with other jurisdictions and then make recommendations to us.

The committee members are: Vernon Gray, selected by myself; former delegate Ernie Bell, selected by Delegate John Slade; Stephan Metcalf, selected by Delegate Tony O'Donnell; and Beverly Fitzgerald, selected by Delegate John Wood. My administrative assistant, Dick Myers, will provide staffing for the committee.

It is extremely important that we not introduce any local bills unless we hear from you, my constituents. With that in mind after the committee deliberates, they have been asked to hold a public hearing to solicit your comments. In the meantime you are welcome to contact Dick directly to give him your opinions so they can be passed on to the committee. He is in the Great Mills office on Monday (301-994-2826) and in Annapolis Tuesday through Friday, (1-800-492-7122, extension 3673).

The offices which the board will be considering for salary change are county commissioner, treasurer, sheriff, state's attorney and judge's of the orphan's court. The St. Mary's County Finance Office supplied us with the current salaries. County commissioner president makes $27,000 a year. The other four commissioners make $21,000. The county treasurer makes $29,000, the lowest treasurer salary in the state. The sheriff's salary is $48,000.

The state's attorney makes $76,320, which under current law is pegged at 80 percent of the salary of the district court judge. Circuit and district court judges' salaries have been proposed to be increased by the Judicial Compensation Commission. The legislature will have to make a decision on those proposals this year. Judge's of the Orphan's Court make $2,400 yearly, with $1,000 maximum annual mileage.

According to the finance office, elected officials receive health insurance and a pension, but do not receive merit, step and COLA increases. They also do not receive leave and holidays. These benefits will also be reviewed by the committee.

Two local elected official positions will not be considered because their salaries are determined by the Maryland Board of Public Works, based on several factors, including workload and county population. Those elected positions are Clerk of the Circuit Court and Register of Wills.

Although this job we have given the compensation committee should not take too long, it is nonetheless an important one. How much we pay our elected officials is one of the considerations of a person deciding whether to run or not. Obviously we need a good crop of candidates to insure that we have quality choices for the electorate.

The committee will be charged with looking at the position and the responsibility of that position, and not the persons in those positions. This is not and should not be a personality contest. Everyone in those positions, if they choose to run, could be defeated. We need to base the salary on the job requirements. We can make decisions on job performance every four years at the polls.

[ Senator Dyson's Newletter ]