Salary raises are proposed for officials Ruppersberger asks council for increase for county appointees

'I just think it's outrageous'

Union leaders say measure is not fair to Balto. Co. workers

April 23, 1996|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III is proposing pay raises for a small group of appointed officials -- a move that has rekindled anger among the unions left without increases in the $1.36 billion budget he presented last week.

Raises for 15 appointees would collectively cost $77,430, budget Director Fred Homan said, and range from $2,000 to a $12,000 increase for Robert J. Barrett, Mr. Ruppersberger's special assistant and former campaign manager. The raises were included in last week's budget proposal.

Six of 18 county department heads are to get raises, the largest going to Mr. Homan and County Attorney Virginia W. Barnhart. Their salaries will rise from $79,500 to $88,000 -- a 10.7 percent boost -- if the County Council approves.

Mr. Ruppersberger said he is striving for the same kind of pay restructuring for appointees that he proposed last week for police, teachers and about 1,200 other county workers -- money to correct inequities and compensate those who have accepted more work after recent budget cuts and early retirements.

"I'm just trying to bring them all up a level because we're asking more of them," he said of his appointed department heads and staffers. "I'm only as good as the people who work with me."

His total executive office budget, he said, will not rise and county spending is up only 1.7 percent overall.

But that didn't sit well with the county firefighters union president, Kevin B. O'Connor, whose members overwhelmingly rejected a proposed contract with the county Friday.

"The more reasonable people in my membership want to burn effigies," he said. "I just think it's outrageous."

doesn't object to the raises per se. "They probably do deserve it," he said.

But firefighters and other county workers deserve raises, too, because of increased work stemming from staff reductions, he added. "I'm representing 1,000 people reduced by 180 over three years."

James L. Clark, whose Baltimore County Federation of Public Employees was slated for just a few pay raises in the Ruppersberger budget, said the raises for appointees "again leave the little guy out." All county workers have had to accept more responsibility over the past five years, he said, not just appointees.

But Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 4 President L. Timothy Caslin and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 921 President Edward M. Pedrick Jr. had no objections.

"We feel he's bringing us up," Mr. Caslin said of the 4 percent raises scheduled for most police. Mr. Pedrick noted that 580 of his 800 members are due for pay raises, so he's not complaining.

Ray Suarez, president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, said he's "not going to war about this," but feels that "symbolically, in a period of little or no raises, it's difficult to take."

Administration officials said Mr. Barrett has earned his raise, negotiating real estate deals and taking over duties after Robert R. Staab left the executive staff last summer to manage golf courses for the independent Baltimore County Revenue Authority. Mr. Homan, they said, now supervises both the budget and finance offices, because the county cut the $79,500 finance director's job.

Salaries for the other four department heads getting raises will rise to $79,500, the base that Mr. Ruppersberger wants to establish for them. The directors of recreation and parks, aging, planning and community conservation, and the county zoning commissioner are in that group.

Those increases pose a delicate issue for the County Council, which has a written policy linking the salary paid its Executive Secretary Thomas J. Peddicord Jr. and Chief Auditor Brian J. Rowe to the amounts paid the budget director and county attorney. Both men now make $79,500 after receiving $3,000 increases last year.

Council Chairman Kevin B. Kamenetz, a Pikesville Democrat, said he learned about the policy Friday, but said raises to $88,000 for council officials would not be automatic.

"We haven't budgeted for it," he said, adding that the county executive should be able to pay his appointees "the salaries he deems appropriate."

The other raises proposed are for the chief liquor board inspector, the county corrections administrator, the deputy zoning commissioner and five staff members.

Pub Date: 4/23/96

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