The Star Democrat
Caroline seeks 5% raises for state’s attorney, county sheriff
DENTON — The Caroline County Commissioners at their Nov. 9 meeting agreed to seek 5% increases in both the state’s attorney and sheriff’s salaries in the next General Assembly session.
Currently, the county state’s attorney salary is 80% of the District Court judge salary, amounting to just over $129,000. Caroline State’s Attorney Joe Riley appeared before the commissioners Oct. 19 asking them to support a state bill to increase his salary to 90% of the judge’s salary, which would be a little over $145,000.
Riley said his current salary matches that of the state’s attorneys in Dorchester, Talbot and Kent counties, but Queen Anne’s state’s attorney’s salary is equal to that of the judge. At least eight other counties in the state are paying 90%.
He said his request was spurred by concerns over inflation and a belief in the value provided by his office.
The commissioners said they weren’t opposed to increasing the salary, but they weren’t sure how much. Commission President Larry Porter said a 10% jump when the county is struggling to give other employees a 3% increase is difficult, although he would be agreeable to something.
At their Nov. 2 meeting, the commissioners agreed to seek an increase for the state’s attorney position to 85% of
the judge’s salary. They have to ask the county’s state legislators to introduce a bill to make the change, which would have to be approved by the General Assembly even though the money for the salary comes from the county.
The Caroline sheriff’s salary is currently set at 80% of the state’s attorney salary, so if the state’s attorney salary goes up, so does the sheriff’s salary. The debate at the Nov. 2 meeting became whether to leave the sheriff’s salary at 80% of the state’s attorney salary or to also raise sheriff’s percentage to 85%. The commissioners asked Sheriff Randy Bounds to attend and comment at the Nov. 9 meeting.
Bounds, who is retiring at the end of this term, did not advocate for one salary over another, saying it was a business decision and he respected their decisions. He did say the job of sheriff is a very demanding one that has become even more demanding over the years.
“It is not, definitely not, an eight-hour day anymore. It’s nights. It’s weekends. It’s a very demanding position … and it’s filled with liability,” Bounds said.
Bounds said he believes it’s important to reward longevity and next year his chief deputy will max out at the county’s 18th step.
“While you know the sheriff (salary) is currently running behind the chief deputy, and with the 80% of the new numbers that Jeremy (Goldman, county administrator) has, they’ll go just ahead with this increase,” he said.
He mentioned Talbot County recently raised the sheriff’s salary to $115,000 with a 5% match in 401K, taking that salary to about $121,000, and next door in Queen Anne’s County, the sheriff’s salary is more than $150,000.
Bounds said there’s a bidding war for law enforcement through the ranks with deputies moving from department to department, and while that doesn’t affect the sheriff’s position so much as it’s an elected office, it is critical to the safety and welfare of the citizens of the county.
“You definitely want to put a salary there that is going to draw someone who is capable and dedicated to that position,” Bounds said.
Commissioner Wilbur Levengood made a motion to increase the sheriff’s salary to 85% of the state’s attorney salary, and Commissioner Dan Franklin seconded it. The motion passed 2-0, with Porter abstaining.
Porter said he was concerned about the effect the increases would have on other county employees. He said he had people stopping him on the street and calling him at home in opposition to the proposed raises.
“We’re beginning, I think, to look at spending money here like drunken sailors, and I’m getting very concerned about it,” Porter said.
The changes in salaries will be part of the county’s legislative requests to the local delegation. Other requests include funding support for public libraries, changing the North County Park request over to a bond bill request if it doesn’t make it into the capital budget requests, support for the Mid-Shore Regional Council and the Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund, and support for the Caroline County Public Schools bond bill for the Judy Center in Greensboro. The commissioners also agreed to support the expansion of Sunday hunting.