Time for a raise in Anne Arundel Salary earned: Increase in county executive, council pay for next term is warranted.

March 04, 1998

A VOTE BY elected officials to raise the salary for their post is an easy target. It feeds contempt for politicians who feather their own nests. But critics often overlook the fact that in public office, as with other positions, you get what you pay for.

No doubt, the Anne Arundel County Council will receive its share of brickbats for its approval of pay increases Monday for the council and county executive.

Pay for council members will increase 10 percent to $33,000 Dec. 7, after the November election. The county executive's pay will increase 21 percent to $102,000 incrementally over the next four years.

The new pay scales were not plucked from thin air. A five-member personnel board recommended the increases. The panel did not do so in its last review five years ago. The first pay raise since 1990 is certainly justified for a job that hasn't gotten easier, in a county whose challenges aren't getting smaller.

Council members currently are paid $30,000 annually. That is less than the $31,175 paid to council member in smaller, neighboring Howard County, or the $38,300 to council members in Baltimore County. As for the county executive, 11 appointed department heads earn more than their boss' current salary of $84,000; that situation rarely exists in the private sector.

Representatives of county unionized workers will complain that their members have not received comparable increases. The executive and council posts are not comparable to rank-and-file jobs.

If taxpayers, who ultimately foot these bills, believe these increases are too great, they have two choices. They can vote out of office four of the five council members who supported the increase -- John J. Klocko III, William C. Mulford II, Thomas W. Redmond Sr. and Bert L. Rice. The fifth, George F. Bachman, is forbidden by county law from running for a third term, and thus from receiving the raise he just approved.

Or, citizens who think the pay is fair compensation for the responsibilities and aggravation of public service can run themselves.

Given the small number of folks who offer themselves for election, it would seem that most citizens, despite the griping, don't consider the pay fabulous compensation after all.

Pub Date: 3/04/98

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