Big raises for liquor board

March 26, 2009|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,

City liquor board commissioners will receive a $10,000 pay increase in May, raises that board commissioners say put them in line with similar state agencies.

On Wednesday, the city Board of Estimates approved an increase from $18,000 to $28,000 for two liquor board commissioners. The chairman of the three-member board will make $500 more.

Noting that this is the board's first raise since 1990, Commissioner Elizabeth C. Smith also said the raises for liquor board commissioners were committed to last year by the state legislature.

The pay increases come at a time when city officials proposed cutting as many as 153 workers, closing recreation centers and reducing library hours. Legislative leaders are also considering an additional round of furloughs for state workers and slashing aid to local governments to help close a $516 million budget shortfall.

"In light of recent economic constraints, we want to highlight that the intent was to bring the board on par with comparable liquor agencies in the state, like in Prince George's and Montgomery counties. Those agencies were making more money, but handling less licenses," Smith said.

Chairman Stephan Fogleman and Commissioner Harvey E. Jones are the two other members of the board, which generally meets once a week and issues fines for violations such as underage drinking. The board can also revoke liquor licenses for excessive violations.

Mayor Sheila Dixon said the Board of Estimates was required to approve the raises after the state passed the bill. "There's nothing we can do," Dixon said. She added that she wished the city had control over more entities like the liquor board. Commissioners are appointed by the governor.

Sun reporters Julie Bykowicz and Annie Linskey contributed to this article.

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