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Sheriff says job needs pay raise

October 09, 2000

Sheriff says job needs pay raise



By LAURA ERNDE / Staff Writer


Sheriff MadesWhen Washington County Sheriff Charles F. Mades learned that the groundskeeper at Black Rock Golf Course makes more money than he does, he figured something was wrong.

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He's not belittling the maintenance superintendent, but he thinks his own job involves a lot more responsibility.

The sheriff manages a staff of 199 and a $10 million budget. He also has the power to tell his deputies, "shoot to kill," in a hostage situation.

"There's a responsibility to this job. And there's an ultimate responsibility," said Mades, who says he is thankful he's never had to make such a decision in his 14 years in the job.

Mades, 60, has asked that the sheriff's annual salary be increased from $55,000 to $67,500 effective January 2003, with annual increases of 3 percent for the next four years. By 2006, the sheriff would make $73,758.

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The pay hike would require the approval of the Washington County Commissioners and the Maryland General Assembly.

No votes have been taken on the proposal, but elected officials didn't question it during a recent meeting between the County Commissioners and the Washington County Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly.

In support of his request, Mades compared his salary to other county officials and sheriffs across the state.

Black Rock's golf course maintenance supervisor makes $55,499, he noted.

Mades is the lowest-paid law enforcement chief in Washington County.

Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith makes $66,810. Maryland State Police Lt. Randy Resh, Hagerstown barrack commander, makes $74,000. Resh once worked under Mades, who is retired from the State Police.

But Mades' salary doesn't look too shabby compared to other area sheriffs' salaries.

The Frederick County sheriff, who has a larger staff and the same responsibilities, makes $5,000 a year less than Mades.

Eastern Panhandle sheriffs, who don't run detention centers but have tax collection duties instead, also make less.

Other Tri-State area sheriffs didn't fault Mades for seeking an increase.

"He's a good guy. I know Charlie. If he didn't need the money he wouldn't ask for it," said Franklin County (Pa.) Sheriff Robert Wollyung, who makes $44,472 a year but whose 16 employees don't handle law enforcement or a detention center.

Mades realizes he's taking a risk in the 2002 election by asking for the raise.

Voters could put him out of office. Or the prospect of a higher salary could draw more people into the race, giving him the first competition he's had since he was first elected.

When Mades took office in 1986, his salary was $28,000. The sheriff's last pay increase, from $42,500 to $55,000, took effect in 1998.

Some have argued against past raises for Mades because of the pension he receives from the State Police.

Mades said he has earned that retirement and it shouldn't be a factor. Besides, the next sheriff may have a different background, he said.

Mades hopes the voters think he's done a good job of creating a professional department.

While in office, he welcomed the award-winning Jail Substance Abuse Program in the late 1980s, dealt with an epidemic of suicides in the mid-1990s and has fended off numerous lawsuits from inmates.

With a staff that's nearly twice the size it was when he first took over and a budget that has doubled in the last six years, Mades says he has his hands full.

"This is a demanding job. It's not just a 40-hour-a-week job," he said.

Realizing he can't know everything that happens within the large organization, Mades limits himself to what he calls the three P's: personnel, policy and politics.

"Since I've been here I've tried to set high standards and hold people accountable for their actions," he said.

He says his younger deputies consider him old-fashioned because of his strict standards and because he doesn't use a computer.

Mades said he wants to make sure that whoever holds the office has a high level of integrity.

"I've seen people abuse that power," he said.

When his term ends in 2002, Mades will be the longest-serving sheriff in county history. Sheriff Charlie Price was three months shy of 16 years when he committed suicide in 1978.

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