County Council to revisit administrator's 22 percent raise Tuesday

The Harford County Council announced it will hold a special session next week to discuss Council Administrator Pam Meister's 22-percent raise, which council members said during Tuesday's legislative meeting they want to rescind publicly.

The special session will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers.

At least three of the council members said they knew the position was being reclassified, but were unaware of how much the salary was increasing.

Councilman Dick Slutzky said it was his fault the raise occurred, after Council President Billy Boniface told The Aegis it was the product of "misunderstanding."

Slutzky challenged that Tuesday, saying: "Any errors that may have been made at that time belong to me, not Council President Boniface."

He said Boniface was not present when the final actions were made to approve the raise.

"I chose not to consult him at that time," Slutzky said. "If, in fact, any specific mistakes were made, I take responsibility."

Slutzky added, without elaborating: "Some of the public comments that have been made do not accurately reflect what occurred in that process."

Boniface said last week Meister was returned to her previous salary and any money she has been paid above that level will be refunded to the county.

The council administrator's salary has increased by $21,000 since she was hired a year ago at $95,000 a year, which was almost $23,000 more than the last administrator was making (in 12 months, the salary of the position of council administrator has increased 46.3 percent).

Maryterese Streett

Councilmen Chad Shrodes and Jim McMahan acknowledged the recent death of Maryterese Streett, a longtime community activist in Bel Air who ran Boyd and Fulford pharmacy with her husband.

"She was just a wonderful lady and a fixture on Main Street in downtown Bel Air," Shrodes said, adding he talked with her "pretty regularly" at Boyd and Fulford.

"She will surely be missed. It's really hard to imagine right now that she's not with us any longer," he said.

McMahan noted she originally came from Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

"I don't know of anyone who took up the mantle of being a transplanted citizen of Bel Air like Maryterese did. She knew the history of Bel Air probably better than most natives," McMahan said. "She loved the history of Bel Air. She was always present in the Boyd and Fulford drugstore."

McMahan recalled her as "a wife, a mom, a businesswoman, a wonderful friend."

Havre de Grace High School

Students at Havre de Grace High School clearly need a new building, as conditions at the school are very crowded, student government president Jillian Larrimore told the council.

She said hallways fill with students during class changes, making it hard for them to get to their lockers, while students also have to wait in long lines in the cafeteria during lunchtime.

The classrooms have an "uneven climate," with some feeling like "a sauna" and others are too cold, she said.

Besides that, "some of our resources are ancient," she said, adding students regularly say they are embarrassed by the school and call it "trash" compared to other, newer buildings.

Residents speak out

Ryan Burbey, the new Harford County Education Association president, told the council he hopes to have a better relationship with council members in the future.

"Moving forward, as we enter a new year, recognizing that we've all made mistakes in the past, I hope we can produce an air of cooperation in the county in regard to education," he said, adding he hopes to meet with each council member to discuss priorities.

"Without cooperation, we can't move forward," he said.

Burbey also mentioned the recent Labor Day as a recognition of the labor movement, of which he is an "ongoing part," and pointed out labor movement contributions like the eight-hour workday and the abolition of child labor.

Residents also talked about their opposition to the planned Walmart and the state's new Smart Growth mandate eliminating development rights in rural areas.

Boniface told The Aegis both topics would be issues for future legislation sometime this fall, but they were not on Tuesday's agenda.

The council also:

- Approved the Master Water and Sewer Plan for the fall.

- Recognized Reginald Traband as a Harford County Living Treasure.

- Approved the appointment of Janet Marie Fox to the Cultural Arts Board.

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