County pay plan suggested

February 19, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

The county's human resources director recommended to the Washington County Commissioners on Thursday that all county employees be given an 8 percent salary hike and that they continue to be paid every week.

Alan J. Davis said it would cost the county about $2 million to increase the salary for all 593 full-time and 371 part-time employees.

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Davis also recommended that the County Commissioners ask next year for enabling legislation from the Maryland General Assembly to increase the commissioners' annual pay, starting in the 2002 term, from $20,000 to $29,000.

The County Commissioners, saying they wanted time to digest those and other requests, did not vote on Davis' recommendations.

In recent years, the County Commissioners have been asked to vote on personnel requests, including salary hikes, before acting on other budget items such as the purchase of new vehicles, County Administrator Rodney Shoop said.


Davis presented a plan to pay for the salary hike, but the commissioners said they wanted more information from financial advisers before adopting it.

The county is scheduled to pay $1 million to an employee pension plan in both fiscal 1999 and 2000, Davis said. However, the county has overfunded the pension plan in recent years, due to high investment returns, and could use that money instead to pay for the salary hike, he said.

Commissioners John L. Schnebly and William J. Wivell questioned the wisdom of finding a temporary way to pay for higher salaries.

A temporary solution is better than nothing if it will help retain employees who otherwise might leave for higher-paying jobs elsewhere, Davis said.

Turnover in the county has increased from 65 jobs in fiscal 1995 to 85 in 1996, 101 in 1997 and 143 in 1998, he said.

County employees' last pay hike was a 4 percent increase in July 1998.

All employees received a 4 percent raise in July 1994, a 4 percent raise in November 1995 and a $500 bonus and a $500 salary increase in December 1996, according to county records. Employees received a 2 percent pay raise in January 1997 and a 3 percent increase in July 1997.

Davis' recommendations included:

- Creating and filling nine new positions - eight Sheriff's Department deputies and one systems mechanic - at the Washington County Detention Center, at an annual cost of $290,310.

Davis recommended the commissioners reject requests for seven other new positions elsewhere, which would have cost an additional $180,374 per year.

- Reducing some employee benefits, such as dropping the amount of annual sick leave from 18 to 15 days.

- Keeping the current payroll system. The commissioners had asked Davis to see how much the county could save by switching payroll from every week to every second week.

Davis said the change would save the county only $1,599 per year. Schnebly said it was "baloney" to think the county would not also save personnel time by making the switch.

The commissioners were given a letter from three county administrators - the directors of solid waste, water and sewer and the highway department - opposing the change on the basis that it would adversely affect some of their employees who are used to getting weekly paychecks.

- Increasing the salary of the County Commissioners elected for the 2002 term to $29,000 and the commissioners president's salary to $30,000.

The County Commissioners' salary has not increased since 1990. Based on a comparison to salaries of commissioners in other Western Maryland counties, the commissioners' current salary should be about $25,000, Davis said. A citizens committee in October 1993 recommended increasing the commissioners' annual salary to $23,000 over a three-year period.

Schnebly said he felt the commissioners should reach some goals before asking for a higher salary. Commissioner Bert L. Iseminger said that voters, at election time, will decide if the commissioners have met their expectations.

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