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Commissioners OK legislative agenda

December 16, 1998|By SCOTT BUTKI

The Washington County Commissioners approved a partial legislative agenda Tuesday but postponed voting on a request for raises for the County Board of Election Supervisors.

The legislative agenda is an annual list of requests for state legislative action that the county gives to the local delegation to the Maryland General Assembly.

The election board is asking for a salary increase for the board president from $2,300 to $4,900, and an increase from $2,000 to $4,800 for the two other paid board members.

The commissioners told Election Board Secretary Charles "Jim" Mobley Jr. that they would make a decision in January. Some of the commissioners said the amount of the increase seemed ridiculous.

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They also did not take action on several other proposals, including a suggestion by Commissioner Paul L. Swartz that the terms of the commissioners be staggered.

The commissioners voted to ask the state legislature to:

* Increase the amount the county can borrow in bonds over a four-year period from $40 million to $50 million.

* Change the wording of a statute governing bidding to make sure a bidder is not only "responsible" but also "responsive."

* Empower the county zoning administrator to make decisions on some routine zoning issues instead of taking them before the busy Board of Zoning Appeals.

* Increase the line of credit the county can draw upon from $4 million to $5 million.

* Give the Washington County Local Management Board an exemption on some purchasing procedures because some involve medical and mental health problems and are of a confidential nature.

Mobley said the Election Board's request for a raise is based on the increasing number of registered voters in the county and an increase in the length of board terms from two to four years. Members can't benefit from a pay hike given during their present terms.

Washington County currently has 65,028 registered voters, but that number could reach 80,000 in the next four years, he said.

If the increase were approved, the appointed Election Board members would receive the same salary, $4,800 a year, as the five recently elected members of the Washington County Board of Education. The two School Board members whose terms are up in 2000 are paid $3,600 per year.

Mobley said the two boards are similar in that both have the authority to hire and fire employees and have separate budgets.

But while the Election Board's annual budget is less than $400,000, the School Board budget is about $100 million, county officials said.

The School Board meets for at least 10 hours a week, but the Election Board meets for about two hours a month, said Commissioner Paul L. Swartz.

The commissioners voted to have Human Resources Director Alan Davis do a comparison of pay for all county boards and present his findings next month.

Only four election boards in Maryland - Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Montgomery County and Prince George's County - pay board members more then $4,800 a year.

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