Salaries for the Sheriff and orphans court judges, authority to let Frederick County pay employees wages using debit cards and a proposed transfer tax were some of the bills considered by the Commissioners on Thursday.
They voted unanimously to submit a bill to the local legislative delegation to increase the salary of the Sheriff. Commissioners' President Blaine Young wanted to tie it to something, such as the salaries paid to a Major or a Lieutenant Colonel in the State Police. But the current salary figures he had were from 2008. In the end, they voted in favor of the bill, and told their staff to research this issue further.
Regan Cherney with the County Manager's office said the Sheriff already makes less than some of his staff. "There are eight members on his staff that receive higher compensation annual pay then he does. And the highest one is at $130,550. So that's a little above what his pay grade is," says Cherney.
The Sheriff currently makes $100,000 annually, according to Commissioner Young.
If a payraise for the Sheriff or other county elected officials is approved, it would take affect after the next election. The Maryland Constitution prohibits payraises for elected officials while serving in office.
The Commissioners also voted in favor of a bill to increase the salaries of the Chief Judge and other Judges on the Orphans Court. The court has requested the Chief Judge's pay go up from $6,500 per year to $16,500, and the other Judges would get $15,000, an increase from $6,000. Commissioner Paul Smith wanted it to go up even more. "Rather than increasing it 50%, I would have no trouble doubling it. Their workload demands it," he said. The Commissioners were told that the Orphans Court meets two times a week, and handles 100 cases per month.
A bill to allow the County to pay its employees with debit cards was also sent off to the legislative delegation. Commissioner David Gray said this process would be perfect for those workers who don't have bank accounts. "I would say that would be fine as long as you have the approval of the employee. Because there are fees that go with a debit card account that won't be applicable to somebody who has direct deposit," he said.
Commissioner Billy Shreve voted against it. "Basic problem in America is that people don't understand cash anymore. So they go the bank and they get cash for their check. And then they go to the grocery store and spend $100," he said.
County Manager Lori Depies told the Commissioners that it costs $1,500 to $1,800 annually to process paper checks for employees, and that translates to $90 for one check. "Paper checks are expensive," she said.
The Commissioners decided to hold off a vote on a proposal to request transfer tax authority from the state until they hear from the financial staff on the pros and cons of instituting this type of levy. That's expected to take place October 31st during the board's Thursday morning worksession.
"It's hard to pitch to the legislators if we fully don't understand it ourselves," said Commissioner Gray.
Commissioners' President Young proposed the transfer tax on property sales to replace impact fees which are imposed on new development. The revenue from the transfer tax would go toward schools, libraries and other services that growth brings with it.
The Commissioners also approved bills to eliminate the reference to maximum value of gaming permits issued for raffles, tax exemptions for properties owned by land trusts, and changes to the annotated code of Maryland pertaining to the changeover from the commissioner form of government to charter. They adopted calls for the removal or modification of the stormwater management fee, but agreed to changes in the wording.