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Commissioners salary passes house

March 08, 2002|BY LAURA ERNDE

A 50 percent pay raise for the next board of Washington County Commissioners passed the Maryland House of Delegates unanimously Thursday.

The biggest piece of the Washington County delegation's bill package now moves to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before the legislative session ends April 8.

Commissioners elected in November would get paid $30,000 a year, up from $20,000. The commission president would make $33,000.

An independent salary study commission recommended the pay hike.

All six Washington County delegates voted in favor of it during Thursday's House vote.

Meanwhile, Delegation Chairman Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, had to withdraw another one of the delegation's bills after discovering it was no longer needed.

The commissioners had asked for legislation that would allow police to arrest people trespassing on public property when signs are posted.

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The delegation agreed to submit a bill and a hearing was scheduled for Thursday in the House Judiciary Committee.

But when Washington County State's Attorney Kenneth Long was doing research to testify on the bill, he discovered that the issue had been addressed by a change in the law that took effect in October 2001.

In a memo to McKee, County Attorney Richard W. Douglas said the information was not available when the county discussed the issue with lawmakers in November.

That leaves the delegation with three other bills to try to get passed this session. Those bills would:

- Increase the annual salary for Washington County Orphans' Court judges from $6,000 to $7,000. Judges would get to keep their $1,000 annual expense account. When they have to travel, their daily meal expense allowance would increase from $18 to $30 and their room allowance would increase from $50 to $85. The bill has passed the House and has been assigned to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

- Allow the Washington County Commissioners to exempt the Hagerstown Soccer Club Inc. from paying property taxes on its fields in Cearfoss. A hearing on the bill was held Wednesday in the House Ways and Means Committee.

- Limit the terms for Washington County Museum of Fine Arts Board of Trustees members. The Commerce and Government Matters Committee has approved the bill, sending it to the full House today.

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