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Lawmakers may seek raise for sheriff

January 19, 2001

Lawmakers may seek raise for sheriff



By LAURA ERNDE / Staff Writer


ANNAPOLIS - State lawmakers might seek a pay raise for the Washington County sheriff without the blessing of the Washington County Commissioners or a citizens' committee.

The Commissioners decided last month to postpone the pay hike issue for a year so they could appoint a citizens' committee to review the salaries of the sheriff and other public officials and make recommendations.

But some lawmakers said they would rather submit the pay raise to the Maryland General Assembly this session. It would go into effect in January 2003, after the next sheriff's election.

"It's a fairness issue, to keep the office pay in line with the duties," said Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington.

Shank is concerned that if lawmakers wait until next year and the bill doesn't pass, the sheriff will have to wait four years for an increase in the $55,000 annual salary.

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Several Commissioners couldn't explain why the committee wasn't appointed last year.

"I guess we fell asleep at the wheel," said Commissioner Paul Swartz.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said it doesn't matter to him whether the salary increase bill is submitted this year or next.

"I guess that's their prerogative if they want to do that," he said.

Such local bills usually pass with little debate in the General Assembly, but unforeseen things can happen.

As an example, a local bill to increase Washington County election judges' salaries died on the last day of session last year because there wasn't enough time to resolve a technical difference between the House and Senate versions, Shank said.

The eight-member Washington County Delegation has not yet discussed what they think the sheriff's salary should be.

Sheriff Charles Mades recommended to the Commissioners that the salary be raised to $67,500 in 2003, with annual increases of 3 percent following that. By 2006, the sheriff would make $73,758.

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

He discovered that the maintenance supervisor at Black Rock Golf Course makes $55,499.

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

The sheriff of Frederick County, Md., makes $5,000 a year less than Mades.

Mades said he didn't ask the delegation to pursue his salary increase this year. He was willing to wait a year for the blessing of the County Commissioners, who fund his salary even though it is set by the state.

"If they do it, more power to them," he said.

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