Last year, when Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden gave his appointees pay raises of 4.5 percent without telling the County Council, several members complained that the executive had sneaked the raises past them.
This year, those same council members approved 8.6 percent pay raises for their own two top appointees -- a move that they defend because it was done openly during public budget deliberations.
Council members said the $5,868 raises for council secretary Thomas J. Peddicord Jr. and auditor Stephen L. Kirchner are further justified because they are based on the raises that Mr. Hayden granted his appointees last year.
The pay raises moved the annual salaries of Mr. Peddicord and Mr. Kirchner from $67,600 to $73,468 as of July 1, bringing their pay to the same level as that of Mr. Hayden's directors of the offices of budget, finance and law.
The raises were briefly mentioned, although not discussed, at an open work session on the council's and auditor's budgets in May, Mr. Peddicord said. Councilman Douglas B. Riley, R-4th, said the raises stuck in his mind because he noted that no news reporters were present.
Though council members defended their raises as based on a 1-year-old policy tying their appointees' pay to the pay of top administration appointees, several county union leaders were surprised and angry to learn of them.
"It does not go over good right now. It's not fair," said Edward M. Pedrick Jr., president of Local 921 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. "These people make big money. I got guys in my union doing two and three jobs and running the county on a shoestring. It's a slap in the face to blue-collar workers."
Police union leader Lt. L. Timothy Caslin said: "It's definitely something to be concerned about." Lieutenant Caslin also said his group's main beef is not with the council but with Mr. Hayden over contract negotiations. Union leaders have repeatedly complained that county workers, who have suffered pay cuts through furloughs and layoffs, have borne the burden of the recession.
County workers haven't had a general cost-of-living pay raise since Jan. 1, 1991, though many have received step and longevity pay raises. In early 1991, Mr. Hayden granted his appointees a 4 percent general raise to match the 4 percent raise received by general workers. He granted another 4.5 percent raise as part of the budget that took effect July 1, 1992. He said those raises compensated for longevity and step increases that general employees were getting.
Mr. Kirchner said his agreement with the council members who hired him before the 1990 election was that his pay would keep pace with the three department heads. After the election, five new members were swept onto the seven-member County Council by the electorate's antitax-and-spend sentiment. The new council denied raises to Mr. Peddicord and Mr. Kirchner, leaving them behind the directors of finance, budget and the county attorney.
That's why their raises are larger this year, said Council Chairman Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger.
"We tried to be very professional and up front," the 3rd District Democrat said.
Mr. Kirchner and Mr. Peddicord, who became secretary in 1991, spoke to each member about the need for a written pay policy for council staff and appointees. That policy is the basis for these new raises, they said.
Councilwoman Berchie Lee Manley said she criticized Mr. Hayden's last round of pay raises because they came as he planned large-scale layoffs and cutbacks in county government brought on by the recession.
"When you're cutting, you should not give pay raises. We have not cut anyone," the 1st District Republican said of the council.