Raises for Baltimore county executive, council and top official proposed

Published on: August 08, 2022 6:00 AM EDT|Updated on: August 08, 2022 4:43 PM EDT

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. announces his budget proposal in the County Council chambers April 2022.
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The Baltimore County Council is due to vote this month on legislation that would hike the salaries of the county executive, council members and the county’s head administrator by around 10% and do away with pension limits for council members.

Two bills filed at the request of County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.’s administration would amend bylaws to raise the pay of the county executive from $175,000 — the standard salary for the county chief since 2014 — to $192,000. Another proposal would increase County Administrative Officer Stacy Rodgers’ pay to $263,000.

And a bill introduced by Council Chair Julian Jones, a Democrat, would give raises to the seven-member council for the first time since 2014. The pay for the administrative officer, who runs municipal operations, was last increased in 2017 by the late former County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

The council members’ pay would increase from around $62,500 to $69,000, while the chair’s pay would increase from $70,000 to $77,000. Jones’ bill would also nix a pension cap that precludes any council member’s pension from being more than 60% of their average final compensation.

The raise for the county administrative officer would take effect next June. The salary increase for the county executive and council, if approved, would go into effect when new terms for elected officials start in December. Olszewski, a Democrat, and five incumbent councilmen are running for reelection.

The raises were greenlighted by the Personnel and Salary Advisory Board, which is meant to make recommendations every four years on salaries for the executive, administrative officer and council members. The county executive’s and council members’ pay have not changed for eight years because the advisory board wasn’t directed to issue pay change recommendations in 2018, Jones said.

The pay hike gives council members and Olszewski’s and Rodgers’ offices the same percentage increase that county employees have received over just the last four years, county spokeswoman Erica Palmisano said — around the time Olszewski took office and appointed Rodgers in 2019.

Jones supports the proposals, but is dissatisfied with the county’s process for determining salaries of elected officials.

“I would like to come up with a system put this to rest,” he said of the periodic salary review. Pay for elected officials, he said, should be determined similarly to employees, who receive step increases and cost of living adjustments annually.

But since the process of setting pay for the council is tied to county code and state law, Jones said he’s unsure how it could be amended.

County employees will receive a mid-year cost of living adjustment to their pay, and Olszewski has funded step increases and higher pay for the least-paid government staffers, like grounds workers, building services staff and bus drivers.

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The council is expected to discuss the proposals at its Aug. 30 meeting, with a vote scheduled for Sept. 6.