In Baltimore County, pay raises rise to the top Hayden orders increases for some

September 12, 1992|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

While many rank-and-file Baltimore County employees are getting no pay raises this year, County Executive Roger B. Hayden has quietly ordered 4.5 percent increases for 37 top appointed county officials and their aides.

Mr. Hayden equated the increases with the step and longevity pay raises that some merit system workers are receiving this year. But leaders of the county's labor unions didn't buy the argument.

"My people are going to go bananas over this. This is how bad feeling starts," said L. Timothy Caslin, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 4.

While the cash-strapped county did not give its workers a general pay increase this year, Mr. Hayden did budget $8 million for normal step and longevity increases.

New county workers receive a pay raise each of the first five years of their employment -- which are called step increases. After that, they get longevity increases every fifth year up to 25 years.

Mr. Hayden argued that appointed officials should have the same opportunity. Their raises, which take effect on the anniversary of their appointments, will cost $34,000 this year.

But most union leaders rejected Mr. Hayden's logic.

"I wouldn't call that step increases. I would call that political patronage," said an outraged Ed Veit, president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County. "This opens up wounds we were trying to heal. It's totally unfair."

Many county workers haven't had a general raise since January 1991 and aren't eligible for step or longevity raises this year. Appointed county officials also haven't had a raise since January 1991, when all county workers received a 4 percent increase.

"It's ill-timed to offer a financial windfall to the top brass," said Kevin O'Connor, president of the county Fire Fighters Local 1311.

Ed Pedrick, who heads the blue collar Local 921 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said, "If they want to get step raises like merit system employees, they should have to apply for their jobs like merit employees. There's no way they should be getting anything."

Mr. Hayden, who said he won't take a pay raise this year, was adamant about his decision.

"I am doing no different than for any other county employee," he said.

Pay is a sore point with many county workers, however, who not only have been denied cost of living increases the last two years, but were furloughed for five days last year to help cover budget cuts.

Mr. Hayden has scheduled raises for most county department heads, high-ranking appointed officials, and staff aides.

The highest-paid officials were left off the list because they already make more than other department heads, said county administrative officer Merreen E. Kelly.

For example, Police Chief Cornelius Behan, Fire Chief Elwood Banister and director of aging Philip Pushkin, will not receive raises. Their pay is already far above all other department heads. The fire and police chiefs make $83,129, while Dr. Pushkin makes $77,162.

But the heads of the departments of budget, law, finance, personnel, public works and the county zoning administrator will each get raises of $3,364, bringing their annual pay to $73,468.

The county library director's pay is controlled by his independent board and the health director, a physician, is paid by the state.

Not all of Mr. Hayden's raises are going to highly-paid employees. Several staff aides will make only $20,423 after the increase.

And not all lower-ranking appointed officials are getting raises. Outspoken County Substance Abuse director Michael Gimbel, who has occasionally been critical of the Hayden administration, is not scheduled for any raise this year. He now earns $65,946.

Officials said the raises also will help keep department heads ahead of their deputies, who get merit system longevity increases.

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