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Mayor reverses course, releases worker's salary

November 10, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

One day after refusing to disclose the salary of the town's meter reader, Mayor John W. Slayman on Tuesday changed his mind.

During and after Monday's town council meeting, Slayman vowed not to release the salary. He directed Clerk/Treasurer Bonnie J. Errico to group the salary in with other expenses as a lump sum, then release the total.

Slayman was responding to a written request by resident James T. Jewell, who asked for parking meter revenue and expenses, including the reader's salary.

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On Tuesday, Slayman said he realized that the salary should be released, but he doesn't like doing it.

"I'm always protective of my employees," he said.

The town's full-time meter worker is Larry Lewis. Slayman said Lewis' salary is $18,304 and he does other work, as needed.

After Monday's meeting, a Herald-Mail reporter asked Slayman why he wouldn't release the salary.

"Because I don't want to," he said.

Slayman said people "just pick on public employees."

During an interview with the same reporter Tuesday, Slayman apologized. He said he was frustrated and regretted his comments.

According to the Maryland Public Information Act, "if the guy's a municipal employee, his salary's public information," Maryland Assistant Attorney General William Varga said Tuesday.

Following Monday's meeting, four of the five council members said they would release the salary as it was requested.

"Absolutely," Councilman James G. McCleaf II said.

Councilman Earle R. Pereschuk Sr. said the salary should be told to anyone who files a request for it.

"If it's lawful for (them) to get, you'll get it," Councilman Monty R. Jones said.

Councilwoman Gloria J. Bitner said salaries are personal and she doesn't believe in giving them out - yet it's "right for the person who's paying the taxes for the salary to know (what it is)."

Councilwoman Roxann L. Long said she would release the information, but differently.

Only the portion of the salary directly tied to meter reading should be released, without the employee's name attached, she said.

At the same time - even though Jewell didn't request it - the town should release a list of all town employees and salaries to avoid singling out anyone, Long said.

Jewell said at the meeting that he represented certain residents who don't attend town council meetings.

The letter said: "We would like to know how much revenue is generated for the town from the meters and what the cost of upkeep and the salary is for the meter person. Please break the ticket revenue down by sweeper tickets and parking violations. Also the revenue from the boot."

Jewell said the group wants figures printed in the town's newsletter in January.

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