Raises OK'd for executive, County Council members Panel also approves police retirement plan

January 06, 1998|By Craig Timberg | Craig Timberg,SUN STAFF

The Howard County Council last night approved raises for the next county executive and the council members who take office in December.

Also last night, the council approved a beefed-up retirement package for all 328 county police officers -- including retiring Police Chief James N. Robey.

In the vote on the new salaries, the council accepted the recommendation of the Compensation Review Commission, a group of seven citizens charged with proposing salaries.

The new salaries will be $33,800 for each of the five part-time council members by the end of 2001. They now earn $30,300. Members will receive yearly raises of $875 until the end of 2001.

County Executive Charles I. Ecker, who leaves office at the end of his second term in December, earns $88,500. Under the plan approved last night, his successor will earn $91,000 and receive raises of $2,500 annually, to a maximum of $98,500 in 2001.

The vote for the new salaries was 4-1, with only Councilman Charles C. Feaga, a West Friendship Republican, in opposition.

"I've never been able to support the increases in public officials' salaries," said Feaga, a candidate for county executive, "so I won't be supporting this."

Councilman Darrel E. Drown, an Ellicott City Republican, supported the raises. "The executive needs to be properly compensated," he said. "And you do want to keep the council salaries at a somewhat reasonable level, and not give a full-time salary."

On the police retirement package, the unanimous vote ends a yearlong battle between council Republicans and the county's two public safety unions, which had seen similar retirement improvements rejected last year.

Beginning in March, police will be able to retire after 25 years on the job and receive 57 1/2 percent of their final salaries each year for the rest of their lives.

The benefit improves for more years of service, up to 65 percent payments for police who retire after 30 years. Police can also get a partial retirement of 39 percent after 20 years.

County firefighters won the same retirement package last year.

County officials say the improved retirement will cost $528,000 a year, but they expect to save thousands more through a new schedule approved by the police union.

Howard police have agreed to work 12-hour shifts, eliminating the overlap in the current 9 1/2 -hour shifts.

Robey, who retires Friday to run for county executive as a Democrat, will be eligible for the improved retirement package. He is using vacation time to remain on the county payroll until after the new retirement plan takes effect.

Yesterday's vote will be worth about an extra $4,500 a year, plus cost-of-living increases, in retirement payments for Robey. He earns $98,719 a year.

Pub Date: 1/06/98

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