Montgomery executive won’t sign bill for pay increases -- Gazette.Net


This story was corrected at 5:25 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2013. An explanation follows the story. It also was updated at 5:40 p.m. on Oct. 31.

In a move that caught members of the Montgomery County Council off-guard, County Executive Isiah Leggett won’t sign a bill the council passed that would provide pay increases for the next council and executive, but Leggett will allow the bill to become law without his signature.

Leggett’s lack of action means the bill automatically become law on Monday and will go into effect in December 2014.

The bill would increase the pay for council members by about $32,000 over the next four years, from the current salary of $104,291 a year to $136,258 on Dec. 4, 2017.

It would also provide an increase of about $10,000 for the next county executive, to a salary of $190,000 a year from $180,250, and ties the salaries of the sheriff and state’s attorney to a consumer price index.

The bill won’t apply to the current council or executive, who are legally prohibited from giving themselves raises while in office.

The fact that the bill passed the council by an 8-1 vote factored into Leggett’s decision not to veto the measure, county spokesman Patrick Lacefield said Thursday. Councilman Philip M. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg voted no.

Six votes are needed for the council to negate an executive veto.

“It’s pretty clear any veto would be overridden,” Lacefield said Thursday.

The Washington Post reported on Oct. 29 that Leggett might not sign the bill.

That came as news to several council members.

Council President Nancy Navarro (D-Dist. 4) of Silver Spring said Thursday that Leggett never conveyed any hesitations about the bill during the legislative process that led up to the council’s vote on Oct. 22.

“It’s unfortunate that this is being raised all over again,” Navarro said Thursday.

Council Vice President Craig Rice (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown said he and Leggett discussed the issue on Oct. 30, but that was the first he’d heard of the executive’s misgivings.

“I wish that we had known about it ahead of time,” Rice said.

Councilman Marc Elrich (D-At Large) of Takoma Park said Thursday he speaks to Leggett regularly, and Leggett never told him about any concerns about the bill.

“People do things I don’t understand sometimes,” Elrich said.

In July, Leggett told members of the committee in charge of making a recommendation to the council that he believed a cost of living adjustment would be enough, Lacefield said Thursday.

“We hear the recession is over, but things are still tough for a lot of people,” he said.

Leggett had assumed the committee would pass on his reservations, Lacefield said.

Leggett should have shared his concerns with the council in a more timely manner, Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Bethesda.

There was a time and place for the executive to weigh in on the compensation issue, and it shouldn’t have been after the fact, Berliner said.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to the veto process.