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McKee: Request to lower salaries not yet received

January 17, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Del. Robert A. McKee said Thursday the $10,000 raise the Washington County Commissioners received in December can be lowered through legislation, but that lawmakers have not received a formal request from the commissioners to consider such action.

The raise issue came about last month after Commissioner John C. Munson, who had campaigned against the raise in the 2002 election, appeared to be backing off the issue.

Munson said last month he changed his mind because delegation members told him they wouldn't lower the raise. He also said he had second thoughts about refusing the raise because of the amount of work involved with being a commissioner.

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Munson said Thursday that McKee was not one of the lawmakers with whom he spoke.

"A couple of the others told me they wouldn't do it," Munson said.

"If a formal request were to come in to this delegation, we would deal with it," said McKee, chairman of the Washington County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly.

Munson said the lawmakers with whom he spoke did not say why they would not lower the raise.

He declined to say anything else about the issue, including the names of the lawmakers with whom he spoke. He said he didn't want to be involved with the issue anymore.

"There's too many other more pressing things," Munson said.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, said Thursday that Munson had not spoken with him about lowering the raise.

The raise set the commissioners' salary at $30,000 a year, up from $20,000 in 2002. Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook earns $33,000.

Three commissioners said this week and last week that they don't have any interest in asking that the raise be lowered. They said the raise issue lies solely with Munson.

"It's an issue with one commissioner as far as keeping campaign promises," Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell said.

The commissioners have not discussed asking lawmakers to decrease the raise, Wivell and Snook said.

"I don't know what John has promised and what he hasn't, and I'm not going to get involved in that," Snook said. "I didn't make the campaign promises that John did. If he wants to do something, that's up to him."

Shank, Wivell and Commissioner James F. Kercheval said if Munson doesn't want the increase, he can give it to charity.

"Any commissioner always has the option to not take the money or give it to charity," Kercheval said. "That's easily done."

Kercheval said he has no interest in asking that the raise be lowered.

"As far as asking for less money, the answer's no," Kercheval said. "I really don't think it's my decision."

He said the commissioners' salary was set before he took office and that the voters will decide in the next election whether he earned the $30,000.

"I could tell you that I don't feel guilty for that amount," Kercheval said.

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