Cit­i­zens op­pose salary raises

Speak against in­creases for coun­cil, county ex­ec­u­tive

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By CH­ERYL MATTIX cmat­tix@ce­cil­whig.com

ELK­TON — Op­po­nents, many of whom are af­fil­i­ated with Ce­cil County Cam­paign for Liberty, a con­ser­va­tive po­lit­i­cal group whose par­ent or­ga­ni­za­tion was founded by former U. S. Rep. Rand Paul, spoke against a pro­posal to raise county ex­ec­u­tive and county coun­cil salaries Tues­day night.

The group also sub­mit­ted a pe­ti­tion signed by 300 peo­ple who op­pose the raise.

The two sep­a­rate bills will not be con­sid­ered by the county coun­cil un­til the Sept. 6 leg­isla­tive meet­ing at 7 p. m. in Elk­ton.

Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Robert Hodge made it clear Tues­day that the pro­posal to raise elected of­fi­cials salaries did not orig­i­nate with the elected of­fi­cials.

“It’s man­dated by the Ce­cil County Char­ter that the county coun­cil must ap­point a salary re­view com­mis­sion to look at cur­rent salaries and make rec­om­men­da­tions for po­ten­tial in­creases in sala-

ries for both county ex­ec­u­tive and county coun­cil,” he told the au­di­ence.

Any salar y change re­quires a ma­jor­ity vote by the coun­cil to be­come law.

The pro­posed salar y in­crease for county ex­ec­u­tive would take it from $ 98,000 to $ 100,000 an­nu­ally, be­gin­ning Dec. 3, when a new county ex­ec­u­tive will take of­fice. The com­mis­sion also rec­om­mended the ex­ec­u­tive be el­i­gi­ble for county

group med­i­cal in­sur­ance, but not coun­cil mem­bers.

Coun­cil mem­bers salaries are pro­posed to go up from $ 25,000 to $ 27,000 an­nu­ally, but not un­til Dec. 3, 2018.

Op­po­nents ar­gued that it’s not good tim­ing for raises, as they will in­crease spend­ing, won’t at­tract bet­ter can­di­dates, are un­fair and will de­tract from other ar­eas of the bud­get that could ben­e­fit from this money.

“I don’t think a pub­lic ser vant should get a raise when most of their con­stituents haven’t had a raise,” said Kim Rhoades, of Elk­ton, who said the county’s spend­ing is “out of con­trol.”

Bob Wil­lick, of Ris­ing Sun, who spoke on be­half of Ce­cil County’s chap­ter of Mary­land Cam­paign for Liberty, told coun­cil mem­bers Tues­day night that vol­un­teers from his group col­lected 300 sig­na­tures from Ris­ing Sun, Elk­ton and Perr yville res­i­dents who op­pose the pay raises that are pro­posed.

“Not one per­son sup­ported this,” Wil­lick said, as he turned over the pe­ti­tion to the coun­cil man­ager.

“I also op­pose the men­tal­ity of keep­ing up with the Jone­ses,” Wil­lick said. “It both­ers me that this county com­pares it­self

to other coun­ties, like Harford and Bal­ti­more. Why not put tax­pay­ers first?”

Ken Wig­gins, a mem­ber of the com­mis­sion that rec­om­mended the raises, spoke up to at­tempt to clar­ify what the com­mis­sion con­sid­ered for com­par­i­son.

“We only com­pared our county to other coun­ties in Mar yland with sim­i­lar pop­u­la­tion, bud­get size and em­ploy­ees,” he said. “We also thought it would be good to keep up with in­fla­tion. I feel it’s a rot­ten job that doesn’t pay ver y well and all you get is a bunch of crit­i­cism.”

Bob Mef­fley, who won the Repub­li­can pri­mar y for coun­cil

from the first district and faces no com­pe­ti­tion in the gen­eral elec­tion, said he didn’t run for of­fice for the money.

Former County Com­mis­sioner Michael Dunn sent in writ­ten tes­ti­mony op­pos­ing the raises.

“This pro­posed pay in­crease for lo­cal gov­ern­ment lead­ers is ex­tremely ill- ad­vised,” he said. “At a time when most work­ing fam­i­lies are strug­gling and the job mar­ket and wages are stag­nant, it’s un­con­scionable that this would even be con­sid­ered. The county is also carr ying a con­sid­er­able amount of debt. Surely this money can be bet­ter spent else­where.”

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