Council salary issue unsolved Baltimore Co. councilmen debate taking pay raise.

April 22, 1991|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Evening Sun Staff

"I don't know; I haven't studied the issues," said Baltimore County Councilman William A. Howard 4th, R-6th.

"When the budget is done, we can make a statement on that," said Donald C. Mason, D-7th, the cost-conscious county councilman from Dundalk.

"I haven't given it any thought at all," added the council's chairman, Douglas B. Riley, R-4th.

This outbreak of indecisiveness on the part of the Baltimore County Council is perhaps understandable. The topic at hand is whether council members should accept pay raises scheduled for December as they prepare to act on a budget that includes no across-the-board pay raises for the county's 20,000 employees. The new county executive, Roger B. Hayden, has said he's not taking a raise either.

Riley's comment came as he explained that the proposed council budget for fiscal 1992 has been trimmed of a few #F non-essentials so that it can include the raises without increasing the total.

Mason said he leans toward not accepting the pay raises.

Fellow freshman Vince Gardina, D-5th, however, said he looks upon the council's scheduled raises, approved by the previous County Council before the 1990 elections, as incremental raises.

"It's more of an increment than it is a raise, and the employees are still getting incremental raises," he said.

The seven council members, five of them freshmen, are to see their pay rise 5.8 percent, from $30,900 to $32,700. The chairman gets a $3,000 differential. The members also get the option of free county cars or an auto expense allowance. Council pay went up 5.7 percent last December in the form of a $1,645 raise.

County employees, who got a 4 percent pay raise halfway through the current fiscal year, are to get no raises this year, except for their normal step and longevity increments, under Hayden's proposed fiscal 1992 budget.

A new employee gets pay raises within a pay grade for the first five years of employment. After reaching the top of their pay grade, employees get longevity increases after 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years of work.

Hayden, who was supposed to be paid $85,000 a year upon taking office and is due a raise to $89,900 in December, has refused to take any percentage raise greater than county employees are getting. He is still receiving the same $73,000 a year that was the executive's salary through 1990.

Hayden told county employees last week he would not take any pay raise since they were not receiving one.

Councilwoman Berchie Lee Manley, R-1st, said she agrees with that position, but is confused about whether the council's raises are really increments. She said she will study the issue. "If it's a cost-of-living increase, we shouldn't take it," she said.

She and Mason consider themselves full-time council members. The other members have other professions, although Gardina works half-time at his telephone company job.

Veteran Councilman Melvin G. Mintz, D-2nd, said he would be perfectly comfortable not taking his raise, but said it would be "inappropriate" for him to take a firm position because the current council hasn't voted on the issue as a body. Mintz, having served since 1986, did vote for the raises in 1990 along with all the other members of the previous council.

Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-3rd, the council's chairman last year, said that yearly raises for members were approved to avoid getting one big raise at the start of a four-year term.

"That's a different issue," he said, referring to the lack of cost-of-living increases for county employees this year. "This was an issue that Hayden ran on. No one on the council ran on that issue."

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