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Review board ready to present to commissioners

By AMANDA SCOTT

Staff writer

Although some elected officials may receive an increase to their salaries, the proposed adjustments made by the county’s compensation review board aren’t what the elected officials requested.

On Monday night, the Calvert County Compensation Review Board finalized its salary recommendations to be made to the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners sometime in October regarding the salaries of several elected officials, including the county commissioners and the sheriff.

The compensation review board, which convenes every four years, reviews the salaries of the five county commissioners, the county sheriff, the treasurer and the judges of the Orphan’s Court — all of which are set through law by the Maryland General Assembly. Following the board’s review, it will make a presentation of its findings to the county commissioners to be included in the county’s 2014 legislative package. Any salary changes won’t take effect until 2014.

Currently, the commissioners’ president’s salary is set at $44,500; the remaining county commissioners’ salaries are set at $42,000; the sheriff’s salary is set at $87,000 and the commissioners are permitted to pay additional compensation equal to the amount of contributions the county commissioners would have made to the Calvert Employees’ Savings Plan on behalf of the years of service; the treasurer’s salary is set at $51,000; the salary of the chief judge of the Orphan’s Court is set at $8,950; and the salary of the two associate judges of the Orphan’s Court is set at $8,750 each.

The Calvert County sheriff’s salary was not easily decided Monday.

At the compensation review board’s last meeting Aug. 12, Calvert County Sheriff Mike Evans (R) requested a salary equal to that of a Maryland State Police major at step 14: $114,288 with a one-step, $3,000 incremental increase annually for the first three years, and a $6,000 increase for the fourth year at step 18.

However, the review board voted 5-2, with Chairman Robert Reed and member Jack Upton opposed, to a one-time, 4 percent cost of living adjustment, bringing the sheriff’s proposed salary to $90,480. Reed and Upton said prior to the vote that they wouldn’t support the motion because they didn’t feel it was enough of an increase.

During discussion, Reed said he would like to see the cost of living adjustment somewhere between 3 and 5 percent. Upton said he would propose a $100,000 salary because “I think the sheriff’s post is one [salary] we have not, perhaps, kept up with the pace” of similar sheriff’s salaries in the area.

After approving the 4 percent cost of living, Vice Chairman Clifton Savoy made a new motion proposing a one-time, 5.7 percent cost of living adjustment for the sheriff’s salary to bring the total to $92,000. That motion failed in a 3-4 vote with Reed, Upton, member Gregory Kernan and member Christy Lombardi opposing. Reed and Upton said they stood by their sentiments from the previous, successful vote.

“Anything more than 5 percent sends a bad message to the public at this time,” Kernan said of why he opposed the higher percentage adjustment.

After that failed motion, Savoy made another new motion proposing a one-time, 5 percent cost of living adjustment to the sheriff’s salary, resulting in a $91,350 salary. That motion failed in a 3-4 vote with Reed, Upton, Kernan and Lombardi opposing, again, for the same reasons.

On Aug. 12, when the review board last convened, Commissioners’ President Pat Nutter (R) and Commissioner Evan Slaughenhoupt (R) requested no increases or adjustments to the commissioners’ salaries, though both expressed they were speaking on their own behalf.

During the compensation review board’s meeting Monday night, the county commissioners and commissioners’ president were proposed, in a 6-1 vote, not to receive any increases or cost of living adjustments.

During the discussion, Reed, who opposed the vote, said he would have liked to see a 2 percent cost of living adjustment in the commissioners’ third and fourth years of their terms with a similar proposal for the president of the board.

In addition, the compensation review board unanimously voted to permit the commissioners to continue participation in the county’s health benefits plan, and made a specific recommendation that the commissioners be permitted to participate in the county’s retirement savings plan.

Judges Leslie Downs and Jesse Jo Bowen of the Calvert County Orphan’s Court attended the compensation review board’s Aug. 12 meeting, requesting cost of living adjustments to their current salaries “to bring us up to where we started,” Downs had said.

According to Reed, the chief justice of the Orphan’s Court was not requesting any salary adjustments.

In a 6-1 vote, the judges of the Orphan’s Court of Calvert County are proposed to receive a one-time, 2 percent cost of living adjustment. Reed opposed the 2 percent; during discussions, he said he would like to see a one-time, 6 percent cost of living adjustment.

The chief judge’s salary would increase to $9,130 and the other two judges’ salaries would increase to $8,925.

Calvert County Treasurer Nova Tracy-Soper requested at the review board’s last meeting a $7,500 salary increase, bringing the treasurer’s salary to $58,500.

But in a 6-1 vote, the Calvert County treasurer is proposed to receive a one-time, 2 percent cost of living adjustment, bringing the treasurer’s salary to $52,020. Reed opposed the 2 percent, saying he is “more inclined to lean toward a 6 percent increase, knowing it’s willfully not enough.”

ascott@somdnews.com