- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Having previously served as a member of the 2001 elected officials compensation review committee, it was of interest to read of the recommendations of the 2012 committee (Oct. 3, “$18,000 raise for sheriff proposed”).
By my recollection, in 2001 it was the review committee’s recommendation that only the sheriff and the county treasurer should receive pay increases. Otherwise, all other elected officials’ salaries were to remain unchanged. Eleven years later, I believe this recommendation continues to be quite valid. I would suggest increasing the county treasurer’s salary from $48,000 to $60,000 over a four-year period. As for the sheriff’s salary, in my opinion he should be paid commensurate with the other sheriffs in Southern Maryland.
In 2001, I opposed increasing the salaries of the county commissioners and I continue to do so. The inducement to seek public office should be public service, not personal enrichment For a county commissioner to be paid $791 and the commissioner president $895 to attend each of the mandated minimum of 48 meetings per year seems exorbitant to me. As to compensation for their informal social obligations, the free lunches and dinners should suffice. Instead of recommending a pay increase, the review committee should have recommended either a freeze or a decrease in the county commissioners’ compensation.
It was recently reported that the median household income in St. Mary’s County is $81,657, the 33rd highest in the nation. Obviously, this amount is inflated by the incomes of the county’s military-related and public-sector employees, for example, $110,000 for the county’s new director of economic and community development. It is not reflective of the typical income of the county’s private sector employees.
A significant disparity exists between the pay and benefits of military-related and public-sector employees versus private-sector employees in St. Mary’s County. For example, for a family of two adults and three children the cost of living in St. Mary’s County requires an annual income, that is, “living wage,” of $52,223 or $25.11 per hour before taxes. Yet, according to the Maryland Comptroller’s Statistics of Income Report, 46 percent of St. Mary’s County tax filers have wages and salaries of less than $50,000.
I have three recommendations for the county commissioners:
Ÿ Except for the county treasurer and the sheriff, reject all other compensation increases.
Ÿ Instruct the director of economic and community development to concentrate on improving the nonmilitary-related, private-sector economy.
Ÿ Create a compensation review committee to address the issue of the long-term cost of the pay and benefits of public sector employees.
Vernon Gray, Lexington Park