Howard County's newly appointed compensation review commission met for the first time Monday, July 29, to begin the process of deciding next term's salaries for the county executive and council members.
The commission, which is composed of seven Howard County residents, meets every four years to review the salaries and determine whether they should increase, decrease or remain the same.
At the end of the last compensation review process, in 2009, the commission at the time recommended a small raise for county officials — an annual increase of $2,500 per year for the county executive, in addition to the traditional increase based on the consumer price index, and a one-time increase of County Council members' salaries by $500, in addition to an annual CPI raise.
The council did not accept the proposal, opting instead for lower salaries and no annual raise other than the one based on the CPI.
The current term's salary for county executive started in 2010 at $160,198. County council members started at $53,400. The council chair, a position that typically rotates between council members on a yearly basis, receives an additional $1,000.
Both the executive and council members also have a monthly stipend of $150 for phone bills. They are eligible for the same fringe benefits that full-time county employees receive, except for paid vacation time.
The commission is required to hold at least one public hearing, which it set for Oct. 29 at 6:30 p.m. in the George Howard building in Ellicott City. However, all the commission's meetings are public and members agreed that they would be open to hearing from the public at any of the dates. The full meeting schedule will be published on the commission's website and will include a date in North Laurel and one in Glenwood.
The commission will hear from county council members, the executive, the county administrator and budget director, among others, during its research process. It also will compare Howard's salaries with salaries of elected officials in other Maryland counties.
The deadline for the commission's recommendations is Dec. 21 of this year. The recommendations will then be passed on to the County Council, which must vote to accept or reject the proposals before the next election on Nov. 4, 2014.