Com­pen­sa­tion is al­ready fair

Cecil Whig - - OPIN­ION -

Will the Ce­cil County Coun­cil show them­selves the money?

That’s the ques­tion on the minds of residents this week as the coun­cil holds a pub­lic hear­ing on whether or not to in­crease com­pen­sa­tion for both coun­cil mem­bers and the county ex­ec­u­tive.

In June, a com­pen­sa­tion re­view com­mit­tee, ap­pointed by the cur­rent county coun­cil ear­lier this year to re­view com­pen­sa­tion and make rec­om­men­da­tions, as required by the Ce­cil County Char­ter, rec­om­mended in­creases of $ 2,000 to all.

When char­ter gov­ern­ment be­gan nearly four years ago, the county ex­ec­u­tive’s an­nual salary was set at $ 98,000 a year, while coun­cil mem­bers’ salaries were set at $ 25,000. Pro­posed in­creases would bring those salaries to $ 100,000 and $ 27,000 re­spec­tively.

The pro­posed salaries are the sec­ond low­est com­pared to what other char­ter coun­ties pay their top elected of­fi­cials, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the Mary­land As­so­ci­a­tion of Coun­ties.

Wi­comico County, which has a sim­i­lar pop­u­la­tion to Ce­cil County, pays its ex­ec­u­tive $ 85,000 a year, while nearby Har­ford County, which has about two- and- a- half times the pop­u­la­tion of Ce­cil, pays its ex­ec­u­tive about $ 105,000 an­nu­ally. Mean­while, Wi­comico pays its coun­cil mem­bers $ 16,000 an­nu­ally, while Har­ford pays its about $ 36,000, with both of­fer­ing about $ 2,000 and $ 3,000 ex­tra to coun­cil pres­i­dents re­spec­tively.

Ken­nard Wig­gins, chair­man of the com­pen­sa­tion re­view com­mit­tee, told the coun­cil that his com­mit­tee looked at salaries in the con­text of at­tract­ing qual­i­fied can­di­dates, the lo­cal econ­omy, house­hold in­come and in­creases to the cost of liv­ing.

“Our goal was to pro­vide a fair com­pen­sa­tion with­out in­cen­tiviz­ing a ca­reer track,” he added.

The com­mit­tee com­pared Ce­cil County’s size, bud­get and num­ber of em­ploy­ees with other coun­ties, while also con­sid­er­ing the scope of du­ties of the po­si­tions.

We ap­plaud the coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to try to put off the ap­pear­ance of im­pro­pri­ety by sched­ul­ing the rec­om­mended in­creases out­side the terms of the cur­rent elected of­fi­cials.

The higher ex­ec­u­tive salary would start in De­cem­ber since Tari Moore chose not to seek re­elec­tion this year, while the coun­cil’s higher com­pen­sa­tion would not start un­til De­cem­ber 2018 to en­sure all mem­bers have to win re- elec­tion be­fore re­ceiv­ing the higher pay.

We also be­lieve the coun­cil made the right choice by not for­ward­ing ad­di­tional costs onto tax­pay­ers re­lated to elected ser vice.

While the com­mit­tee also rec­om­mended an ad­di­tional $ 5,000 a year for the county coun­cil president and al­lowance for all coun­cil mem­bers to seek re­im­burse­ment for at­ten­dance at other meet­ings in ad­di­tion to the Mary­land As­so­ci­a­tion of Coun­ties, nei­ther of those rec­om­men­da­tions were writ­ten for con­sid­er­a­tion in bills spon­sored by Coun­cil President Hodge.

The coun­cil pres­i­dency is not an elected po­si­tion, but one that is se­lected by the coun­cil mem­bers, and there­fore could lead to more ques­tions than needed.

When it comes to the base ques­tion of whether to in­crease the coun­cil and ex­ec­u­tive’s salaries we sim­ply be­lieve that do­ing so is not needed at this time.

The ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tion al­ready earns far more than a sim­i­lar- sized ju­ris­dic­tion while nearly match­ing one more than twice Ce­cil’s size. Coun­cil mem­bers earn more than their sim­i­lar- sized col­leagues and less than nearby larger ones. There­fore we feel that they fall in line with where Ce­cil County needs to be.

We thank the com­mit­tee for its work, but if the be­lief is that in­creases are needed to at­tract qual­i­fied can­di­dates, then re­cent elec­tions would seem to prove that’s not the case. Repub­li­cans have almost al­ways of­fered nu­mer­ous can­di­dates for lo­cal of­fices and while Democrats have failed to put for­ward can­di­dates re­cently, party lead­ers have never sug­gested that the po­si­tions’ com­pen­sa­tions played a part in that trou­ble.

We be­lieve our of­fi­cials are al­ready com­pen­sated fairly and hope that you voice your opin­ion at 7 p. m. Tuesday at the County Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing on 200 Ch­e­sa­peake Blvd. in Elk­ton.

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