Committee Considers Raising Some County Salaries

By Guy Leonard, County Times

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (Oct. 23, 2008)—Members of a citizen commission tasked with reviewing salaries of some county elected officials, including the sheriff, orphan’s court judges and county commissioners, realize that the economic outlook for the county is strained, but that may not stop them from recommending raising salaries for positions they feel have been chronically underpaid compared to their counterparts in other counties.

“For the sheriff we might consider more than just a cost of living increase,” commission member Ray Wernecke said when the group reviewed the salary allotted to the Office of the Sheriff. “Law enforcement might be an area of discussion.”

The Elected Officials Compensation Review Commission held their first meeting Oct. 17, but came up with no firm recommendations as to amounts of money that could bolster the pay of elected officials who take office in 2011.

The compensation of elected officials currently serving would not be affected by any recommendations made in the next two months by the committee and would have to be approved by both the county commissioners and the state delegation by law.

The commission will also review the compensation for the chairman and members of the county board of education, county treasurer, and state’s attorney.

Benefits commensurate with those positions will also be up for review.

When the members of the board were named in September, some county commissioners said the commission should adhere strictly to what the economic times forecast.

A looming $1.4 billion state deficit plus the nationwide and even global economic crisis meant the possibility of raising salaries was likely not feasible, they said.

Commissioner Lawrence D. Jarboe (RGolden Beach) said commission members should be prepared to “hold the line” and not approve any raises, while Commissioner Kenneth R. Dement (R-Callaway) said the commission members should even be willing to keep salaries where they are or lower them.

According to statistics shown to commission members from the Maryland Association of Counties, the sheriff here earns less than his counterpart in either Calvert or Charles counties.

In Charles County, the sheriff earns $121,881; in Calvert he earns $84,000. Here the salary comes to $78,000.

St. Mary’s county commissioners also make less than their Southern Maryland counterparts, while Board of Education members make more.

The next scheduled meeting of the commission is set for Oct. 31 with their final report due by Dec. 1.

The commission members include, Mary Ann Murray, Ray Wernecke, Joe Densford, Judith Hewitt Sterling, Beverly Bailey, Betty Currie and Douglas Ritchie.

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