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Washington County to consider raising pay for some elected officials

October 28, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- The Washington County Commissioners today are to consider salary raises for some elected positions, including their own.

A commission created to study the salaries of several county positions has suggested raising the county commissioners' salaries roughly 25 percent, increasing the Washington County Sheriff's salary by 20 percent and giving Washington County Board of Education members raises of about 11 percent.

With the increase, the county commissioners' yearly earnings would rise from $30,000 to $38,000. The salary of the commissioners president would go from $33,000 to $41,000.

Board of Education salaries would increase from $5,500 to $6,100, and $5,600 to $6,200 for the board president, according to a salary commission report.

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The sheriff's salary would increase from $80,000 to $96,000.

The county commissioners and board of education members are part-time employees.

If approved by the county commissioners, the changes would have to be passed into law by the Maryland General Assembly and could not be implemented until after a general election, according to state statute.

The county is required under state law to create a salary study commission every four years to review the salaries of eight elected positions, including the county commissioners, board of education members, orphans court judges, sheriff, state's attorney, treasurer, board of election supervisors and board of liquor license commissioners.

Increases were recommended only for the county commissioners, board of education members and the sheriff.

Under state statute, the commissioners can "accept, reduce or reject" the recommendations but cannot increase them.

Monda Sagalkin, chair of the salary study commission, said the group recommended salary increases after comparing elected positions here with those in other counties of comparable size.

She said the group, which started meeting in May and finished its report in September, did not discuss the economy during its meetings.

"We were really concerned about fairness and comparison to other areas," said Sagalkin, who noted that the economy could improve by 2010, when any raises would be implemented.

Kent Reynolds, who worked on a subcommittee that studied the salaries of the county commissioners and the state's attorney, said the group looked at county commissioner salaries in Charles and Carroll counties.

Charles County Commissioners earn $40,000 and Carroll County Commissioners earn $45,000.

The biggest factor in the group's decision to raise the Washington County Commissioners' salaries, however, was the fact that the salaries have been flat since 2002, Reynolds said.

He said an $8,000 raise put into effect in 2010 essentially would equal 3 percent annual increases from 2002 to 2010.

County Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire said he did not want to comment on the specific recommendations but said wage increases should come with increased responsibility or relate to a higher cost of living.

"If it's not, then there's no reason (to raise salaries)," Aleshire said.

Commissioners Vice President Terry L. Baker said he thought the recommendations for the Board of Education and sheriff seemed fair but wanted to discuss the proposal with the commissioners before deciding on them.

Commissioner James F. Kercheval said he preferred not to comment, and Commissioner William J. Wivell and Commissioners President John F. Barr could not be reached for comment.

Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore called the proposed increase for his position "appropriate."

He noted that his salary is lower than most of the people in his agency ranked captain and higher.

"Being the sheriff in Washington County is like being the CEO of a fairly sizable business," Mullendore said.

The sheriff's salary was raised in 2006 from $67,500 to $80,000.

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