Montgomery County Council approves pay raise for next council, executive -- Gazette.Net


This story was updated at 8:45 p.m. on Oct. 22, 2013.

Pay for the next members of the Montgomery County Council will increase about $32,000 in the next four years.

The current council voted 8-1 to approve the increase Tuesday, based on an amendment by Council President Nancy Navarro (D-Dist. 4) of Silver Spring to phase in the increase.

Councilman Philip M. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg opposed the increase.

According to the amendment, the council’s pay would increase from $104,291 — the level as of December 2012 — to $136,258 on Dec. 4, 2017.

There would be increases of 8.6 percent in 2014, 6.5 percent in 2015 and 6.5 percent in 2016. The final increase, in 2017, would be 6.0 percent.

The final amount of $136,258 matches the recent recommendation of a committee appointed by the council every four years to study compensation by elected officials, but alters the committee’s suggestion for getting there.

The committee’s suggestion would have set the council’s salary at $125,000 starting in December 2014, with cost of living increases each year, bringing it to $136,258 by the end of the four-year term.

In proposing the change, Navarro said, the council needs to be mindful of the financial issues facing many county residents as the country continues to recover from the economic recession.

Navarro called phasing in the increases a “reasonable and responsible approach.”

The first phase, an increase in the salaries to $113,310 a year, won’t take effect until Dec. 1, 2014, after the next election.

Lawmakers are legally prohibited in Maryland from giving themselves a raise.

The bill the council passed Tuesday also increases the next county executive’s salary from $180,250 a year to $190,000 per year, and ties the salaries of the county’s sheriff and state’s attorney to a consumer price index.

Andrews said he thought Navarro’s amendment was an improvement, but he still thought the increase was too large.

Andrews said he’s afraid the increase will make it harder for the county executive to negotiate labor contracts and would inhibit the council’s ability to reject comparable salary increases for other employees.

Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring said she opposed Navarro’s amendment and would have supported the increase as proposed by the committee, but ultimately supported the final proposal.

Council Vice President Craig Rice (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown said a majority of people who expressed their disapproval of the increase to him said the council didn’t deserve a raise.

Rice said that even though the council works hard to improve the quality of life in the county, it needs to pay more attention to how its actions are perceived by residents.

But Rice said he supported the increase to make sure qualified candidates seek public office in the future.

“We need to be sure that we put the best people forward to represent one of the best counties in this nation,” Rice said.

Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin — who served on the compensation committee and emphasized Tuesday that he was speaking on his own behalf rather than as a public official — touched on a similar note during a public hearing held before the vote.

The impact on the county’s budget is minimal compared to the importance of getting a council that’s most representative of the county, he said.

“So, please have the courage to vote for a salary that will result in more candidates to run for your positions and give the voters more options when they go to the polls,” Slavin said.