Gary's top aides get 10% raises County worker union objects with members receiving just 1.5%

November 02, 1997|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary, known as a champion of frugal government, is handing out generous raises to his top administrators.

In a year when many blue-collar county workers are receiving 1.5 percent cost-of-living increases, Gary gave 10 percent raises last week to his chief of staff, police chief, director of programming and administrative hearing officer, according to county records.

In addition, Gary's wife, Ruthanne, the county's director of community services, received a 7 percent raise, to $69,598. Her husband's salary is required by law to remain at $84,000.

Gary's spokeswoman, Lisa Ritter, said the raises were the result of outstanding individual performances and a booming economy that gave the county an $11.2 million surplus this year.

Jim Bestpitch, president of a union that represents 900 county blue-collar workers, said it was dishonest for the county to claim it was under tight fiscal constraints during recent labor negotiations.

"I think it is a slap in the face of working people," said Bestpitch of Local 582 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

"A loaf of bread costs the same for a janitor in my union as it does for the county's chief of staff," he said.

Cecilia Fabula, chief negotiator for the union, noted that its members will receive a 3 percent raise Jan. 1 for the two years ending June 30, 1999.

Ritter said the unions received raises called for under their contracts. She added that some unions received more than cost-of-living increases, such as improvements in pensions and changes in job classifications.

Of the administrative raises, she said, "If some people received 10 percent increases, it was because their performances were outstanding."

Gary gave all but one of his 21 Cabinet members merit raises last week. Four got 10 percent increases, six received 7 percent raises, seven received 5 percent increases, and three received 3 percent raises.

The only top administrator not getting a raise was Ronald Nelson, the county's land-use and environmental officer. The reason, Ritter said, is that Gary appointed Nelson to the post so recently, in August.

Wife to get $69,598

The county executive had nothing to do with giving his wife a raise, Ritter said.

Ruthanne Gary has held her position since before her husband took office in 1994. The job requires her to distribute information about development projects to more than 650 community organizations.

Mrs. Gary's 7 percent merit, or "pay for performance" raise, from $65,048 to $69,598 a year, was approved by Gary's chief administrative officer, Thomas C. Andrews, who supervises her and reports to Gary.

"It was my judgment that that was how she performed," Andrews said. "She met and exceeded all the criteria for her position. I had no discussions with John Gary whatsoever about this."

Among those receiving raises were Police Chief Larry W. Tolliver, whose salary rose 10 percent, to $89,650; Chief of Staff Samuel F. Minnette, whose salary rose 10 percent, to $81,235; County Attorney Phillip F. Scheibe, whose salary rose 7.5 percent, to $89,225; Planning Director Steven Cover, whose salary rose 7.5 percent, to $81,055; and Financial Officer John R. Hammond, whose salary rose 7.5 percent, to $91,375.

Pub Date: 11/02/97

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