Raise planned for next sheriff

Delegates vote to push pay to $71,100 by 2006

March 10, 2000|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A substantial pay raise is in the works for the Anne Arundel County sheriff.

The House of Delegates voted yesterday to raise the salary by $14,000 over four years, from $57,100 in 2002 to $71,100 in 2006, making it comparable to other jurisdictions.

While the expected pay raise does not affect Sheriff George F. Johnson IV now -- his salary is set at $54,025 for this year -- it would apply to whomever holds the elected office for the next four-year term. Johnson, a former county police officer, is in his second term and said he will seek a third term in two years.

Johnson said he realized that the pay increase would be large.

"I hope people take into consideration the dramatic increase in responsibility in the last five years," he said.

The office, with a $5 million budget, serves all civil and criminal warrants in the county, provides security for a new Circuit Courthouse that is four times the size of the one it replaced and executes evictions, among its duties. The warrant service returns nearly $1 million a year to county coffers, Johnson said.

Yesterday's vote comes two weeks after a similar measure was adopted in the Senate.

Both bills initially tied the sheriff's salary to that of a county police captain. A captain typically oversees the work of about 100 people. The sheriff's office has 94 employees, 70 of them deputies.

The Senate version emerged with no changes, but the House version does not link the salary to a captain's earnings.

"Ours phases it in," said Del. Virginia P. Clagett of West River, the bill's chief sponsor in the House. Like Johnson, she is a Democrat, and the pay raise had no opposition from the Democrat-led administration of County Executive Janet S. Owens, which pays the sheriff's salary.

Both the House and Senate versions were sponsored by the full county delegation.

The House bill authorizes a $64,100 salary in 2003 and 2004, then a $71,100 salary in the next two years, after the Judiciary Committee decided it preferred not to tie a state-mandated salary to a local one.

Clagett said she expects a conference committee will work out the discrepancy.

Though some past pay-raise bills have come during the third year of an election cycle, officials wanted this one further from the election in two years.

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