ELKTON — The Cecil County Council is set to discuss whether future elected officials should get a raise when new terms begin, as recommended by the compensation review committee last week.
The committee, appointed by the current council earlier this summer, recommended last week to raise the council members salaries by $3,500 and the county executive salary by $5,000. The committee also recommended a differential of $1,000 to other council members.
That would bump all council members to $28,500, the council president to $29,500 and the county executive to $103,000. The committee also recommended cost of living adjustments based on the consumer price index until 2024.
Under the Cecil County Charter, the council is required to appoint members to an ad-hoc committee to review elected officials compensation and make recommendations.
The proposed salaries are the fourth lowest compared to what other charter counties pay their top elected officials, according to a report by the Maryland Association of Counties. The average salary for county executives, based on nine counties and Baltimore City is $150,274.
Among the 24 county councils and commissioners, the average salary is $41,126.
If voted on and passed, a pay raise would not go into effect until the next council term. Terms are staggered, with the county executive and two council members (representing councilmanic Districts 1 and 5) up for re-election in 2020.
“There is a big misconception that it would affect the current council, but it’s set up so we’re not voting to raise our salaries,” Councilman George Patchell told the Whig after the meeting.
Rod Heinze, chairman of the compensation review committee, told the council that his committee looked at compensation needed to attract and retain viable candidates, comparable salaries, and responsibilities and time commitments of each office.
“Some would say maybe they’re not being paid enough. Some might think they make too much — but that’s neither here nor there,” Heinze said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a full-time job, but it is at least a full-time commitment.”
The committee also considered the charter and the Code of Cecil County Ordinances, as well as the values of the office and the positions offered, according to the report.
All but one council member told the Whig that they needed time to consider the study before it would definitively say one way or another if it would vote on raising salaries for the council and the county executive.
“I don’t want to diminish all the hard work of the committee. It’s something that needs to be analyzed closely,” Patchell said.
Councilman Al Miller said that he would “have to think on that,” while Council Vice President Jackie Gregory said that she would decide when it came before her.
Councilman Bill Coutz alone said that he would vote in support of raising salaries for both the council and the county executive.
“It would still leave us far below other counties of comparable size and structure, and it’s a start,” Coutz said last week. “From an executive standpoint, we’re talking $330 million budget and 103,000 people that expect on a consistent basis to recruit and attract qualified individuals to run for that office is very difficult on $98,000 a year, that’s for sure.”
Council President Bob Meffley said that he also needed to sleep on it, but added that he would not be a big fan of sizable increases in general.
“Moving a dial on a big swing, in other words, if you make $10 and all of a sudden they’re given $18, I’m not crazy about that for anybody,” Meffley said.
The council is set to discuss the compensation review committee recommendations on Sept. 24.