Hayden and council forgoing Dec. 1 raises

November 26, 1993|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden's official pay rises to $100,700 Dec. 1. That may seem like a hefty sum, but he's accepting only $75,920.

Members of the County Council also are scheduled for a raise in pay, to $36,600 a year. They will forgo their raise, also, and will continue to receive $30,900 for their part-time jobs. The council chairman is paid an additional $3,000.

With these pay raises begins the dilemma over how much officials elected next year are to be paid. County law prohibits elected officials' pay from being changed during a four-year term of office. So, the pay rates for those county officials who will take office in December 1994 must be decided this year.

The county Personnel and Salary Advisory Board reluctantly took on the issue this week, recommending that council salaries not change from the official rate. County law requires the board to recommend council pay rates to the County Council. The council makes the final decision on the next executive's pay and that of the next council.

During the meeting, T. Bayard Williams, the crusty, 81-year-old former school board president who now heads the advisory board, freely expressed his disgust at having to make the recommendation.

"Why should we have to do it?" asked Mr. Williams, who said he believes that council members use the board's recommendation to deflect public criticism.

The board's recommendations will go to the County Council in mid-December, and be voted on in January.

The executive's pay became a campaign issue in the 1990 election, in which Mr. Hayden upset Dennis F. Rasmussen. Though Mr. Rasmussen had tried to insulate himself from the process of setting salaries, voters blamed him for a maneuver that saw the county executive's salary increase from $73,000 to $85,000 for the start of the current term. Annual increases brought the salary to the $100,700 scale that takes effect Dec. 1.

Mr. Hayden always has promised to take no more of a pay increase than county workers received, and council members have followed suit.

Mr. Hayden's top appointee, county Administrative Officer Merreen E. Kelly, also is in line for a pay raise. He is supposed to be paid $5,000 less than his boss -- $95,700 -- but will not get a raise. His annual salary will remain at $84,900.

While the pay of elected officials was a concern of voters last election, county workers will be even more interested this time around.

The recession that began when Mr. Hayden took office in December 1990 robbed county workers of any general pay increase, except for the 4 percent increase that Mr. Rasmussen gave them. That raise took effect Jan. 1, 1991. Furloughs cost most county workers five days' pay last year. Hundreds were laid off during February's round of budget cuts, which cut 566 county jobs.

Mr. Hayden said he has not thought about the next county executive's pay. He also said he didn't know the council would soon be considering the next council's pay.

Outgoing Council Chairman Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-3rd, said he favors keeping salaries at their current levels. He also said he favors county elected officials' getting the same percentage raise as county workers.

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