With an appointed commission recommending pay raises for some county positions, area residents offered their opinions Thursday.
“Given the current climate, more taxpayer money for employees is probably not the best idea,” said Will Kenyon, 44, of Hagerstown. “I’m sure other programs could use the money.”
Bill Bieltz, 57, of Hagerstown, said he thinks the pay increases are “well-deserved.”
“I’ve lived in a lot of places, and from what I see in other counties, these county workers are underpaid,” he said. “The amount is minimal and things are tight, but if you want good people, you have to pay them.”
The proposed increases were for members of the Washington County Board of Commissioners and its president, members of the Washington County Board of Education and its president, the sheriff, and members of the Washington County Board of License Commissioners and its chairman.
The proposed pay increases are all more than 10 percent, with one position, the president of the county commissioners, at 21.2 percent.
Mark Lannon, 60, of Hagerstown, said based on what he knows of the proposals, he is against them.
“The thing that jumps out at me is it’s a significant increase, especially in a time when the economy is just starting to come back,” he said. “We do want the best people for public office, but at the same time, we need to be frugal with tax dollars.”
Out of 17 people who spoke with The Herald-Mail about the issue, 11 people said they were against the pay increases, five said they were OK with it, and one person said he was against the pay increases for all of the positions except the sheriff.
Tom Wallech, 24, of Hagerstown, said he thinks money should be spent on hiring more people for the county instead of increasing the salary of current workers.
“The population is booming here and I think eventually Hagerstown is going to overtake Frederick, so we are going to need more roads and better traffic flow,” he said. “I know that they’re trying to help, but I can’t see a lot going on here where the money is used for a good purpose. Salary all depends on what work you get done.”
All of the positions involved in the proposed pay increases are part time except the sheriff’s position, and they are all elected positions except for the Washington County Board of License Commissioners and its president.
Steve Martin, 46, of Hagerstown, said he was OK with the proposed increases.
“I think the size of the budgets and the work that they’re doing warrants the pay increase,” he said. “For us to compete with the other metropolitan areas, we need to have folks that are committed and worthy and compensated for the work that they do.”
Cherina Moseley, 32, of Clear Spring, said they did not bother her either.
“All I care about is what I bring home, and their pay increases don’t affect me,” she said. “We all have to live and take care of our families.”
The proposed increases would go into effect in 2014. The county commissioners’ last pay increase occurred in 2002, according to published reports.
James Lee Miller, Jr., 71, however, said now is not the right time for county workers to have pay increases.
“I know the county workers work hard, but at this time, with the way the economy is, they should be well-satisfied,” he said. “Maybe later on up the road, when the economy picks up a little bit, I’d say there’s nothing wrong with it.”
The commission that reviewed the salaries was created by the county, as state law requires that every four years.
Rory Poole, 40, of Hagerstown, said he is against the pay increases.
“I work for the state and I don’t get a raise, so I don’t think they should get a raise,” he said. “They already make enough money.”
By state law, Washington County must create a salary commission every four years to review the salaries of certain positions.
The commissioners may accept, reduce or reject the recommendations of the salary study commission, but can’t increase them. The commissioners will send recommendations for commissioners and the sheriff to the legislative delegation in Annapolis. The delegation will decide whether those salaries should be changed.
Any increases for the elected offices under review could not go into effect until after the current term ends.