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St. Mary's government department heads receive 2.5% salary increase

After the regular St. Mary’s County commissioners meeting on Tuesday, the board met in a closed executive session, and then reconvened to vote on salary increases for the county administrator and several county department heads that total more than $41,000 annually.

In a 3-2 vote, commissioners approved 2.5% increases, ranging from $3,175 to $4,577, in salary for department heads, including County Administrator Rebecca Bridgett; Chief Financial Officer Jeannett Cudmore; John Deatrick, director of the department of public works and transportation; Lori Jennings-Harris, director of aging and human services; Bill Hunt, director of land use and growth management; Chris Kaselemis, director of economic development; Bob Kelly, information technology officer; and Arthur Shepherd, director of recreation and parks. In addition, a market adjustment increase of $10,000 per year was provided to David Weiskopf, county attorney.

Commissioner John O’Connor (R) and Commissioner Eric Colvin (R) both voted against the salary increases, while the three other commissioners supported the raises. O’Connor posted the salary documents on social media Tuesday.

Colvin told The Enterprise that he assured county heads his decision to vote against the raises was “in no way a reflection on their performance,” but that he could not support it when “the commissioners as a whole voted no” on pay parity for the county’s sheriff’s office.

Proposed deputy salary adjustments for pay parity with neighboring counties would add about $3.5 million to the annual budgeted amount of $19 million, according to budget documents.

O’Connor said he is “truly at a loss for words” and this “abhorrent vote” to increase the pay of employees who already make six-figure salaries is the “exact opposite” of what commissioners decided to do for law enforcement officers.

“The same three commissioners who said there was no money in the budget voted yes to the raises [for county department heads] mid-budget season … and it wasn’t until I insisted that it be done publicly” that the public was made aware of the vote, he said, adding this is a “slap in the face” to the process, citizens of this county and sheriff’s office employees.

He also mentioned that the raises took place only one week after a county department head told a commissioner that they felt they were not equally compensated.

According to O’Connor, sheriff’s office employees did receive a raise at the beginning of the fiscal year but he said it was small, “maybe around 1%.”

However, when asked by The Enterprise, Bridgett said that sheriff’s deputies received a merit increase of 2.5% plus a 1% cost-of-living allowance and a 1.5% market adjustment, for a total 5% salary increase. Correctional officers received a 2.5% merit increase, a 1% COLA, and a 1.96% market adjustment, for a total increase of about 5.4%.

Commissioners also approved a mid-year “market correction” for county correctional officers at their Nov. 5 meeting, providing another 11% increase in their salaries.

A 3.71% market adjustment increase to be phased in within three years was provided to county employees beginning this fiscal year, in addition to a 2.5% merit increase and 1% COLA, equaling a total 7.21% increase.

When asked why he supported the department head raises, Commissioner Todd Morgan (R) said that last year the commissioners “gave teachers extraordinary raises,” the sheriff’s got a raise, and county employees “got a step up” when department heads did not.

“Why ostracize a small group of people?” he asked.

O’Connor claimed that department heads already did receive raises at the beginning of the budget year.

According to Bridgett, some county department heads were given raises at the beginning of the last budget year, including merit increases of 2.5% to the county’s human resources and emergency services heads as well as the golf course manager, all of whom were not included in Tuesday’s salary increases.

The following figures are according to documents posted by a county commissioner:

Bridgett, who was appointed in April 2013, now has a new salary of $183,071 after the $4,577 raise.

Cudmore’s salary is now $134,611 after a raise of $3,365; she was appointed in May 2015. Deatrick, appointed in August 2017, now has a salary of $148,625 after a $3,716 raise. Hunt’s salary is now $133,250 after a $3,331 raise; he was appointed in June 2017.

Jennings-Harris, appointed in August 2006, now makes $135,172 after a raise of $3,379. Kaselemis, appointed June 2015, now makes $129,227 after a raise of $3,231. Kelly, appointed October 2001, now makes $138,060 after a raise of $3,452 and a compression adjustment of $3,452.

Shepherd, appointed in April 2017, now makes $127,000 after a $3,175 raise. And Weiskopf, who was given a $10,000 market adjustment, now makes $145,000 per year; he was appointed county attorney in December 2018.

Twitter: @MadisonEntNews

Twitter: @MadisonEntNews