Release of county employee salary information draws mixed reactions

After Friday's release of every full-time Baltimore County employee's salary, county officials and community activists commended the decision as a move toward transparency and accountability in the county government — despite some concerns from county employees who were unhappy their salary is now posted online.

"It's another way that County Executive (Kevin) Kamenetz is moving forward to increase transparency in county government, and use technology more efficiently," county spokeswoman Ellen Kobler said.

Kobler said some county employees have voiced concerns over their salaries being public information, but she noted that their salaries are public record, and the July 1 release ensures that direct, accurate information is available to the public.

The salaries are listed on the county's website at on the Human Resources page of the site.

Fifth District County Council member David Marks, who represents Towson and Perry Hall, has no problem with his $54,000 salary being posted — he said it's widely known how much council members make — but said he has also received a few complaints from county employees in his district who believe the information is personal and don't like seeing it online.

Like Kobler, he understands that the information is subject to public records requests, and believes that taxpayers have the right to know how their money is being spent.

Fellow council member Tom Quirk of the 1st District, representing Catonsville and Arbutus, agrees.

"We're public employees, and taxpayers are paying our salary," Quirk said.

"I think there's a lot of really good people that work in the county government, and many of them are doing it for the greater good of the community," he said. "When I ran for this job, I never ran with money as a consideration. I ran because it's something that I can do to help my community.

"As far as releasing the information, transparency and openness is a good long-term thing."

Donna Spicer, a community activist from Loch Raven, said that while she is interested in the salaries of the county's highest-paid employees, she doesn't see a need to publish salary information about every county employee.

Spicer suggested that measures could have been taken to spare the "regular guy" from having the information posted.

"Their positions could be listed without the names of the employees," Spicer said. "There could be a limit to what they show. Anybody under $80,000 could be listed as a group instead of named individually."

According to the data, the highest-paid employees span several county agencies. Police Chief James Johnson had the highest base salary at $204,750, while State's Attorney Scott Schellenberger had a base salary of $194,276.

Robert Stradling, director of information technology, has the county's third-highest salary of $198,900. County Administrative Officer Frederick Homan earns $190,000 per year, rounding out the top four.

The police department was well-represented at the top of published lists, with 16 of the 25 highest-paid county employees coming from the police department.

In a statement, Johnson said, "Public employee salaries and benefits are public information. All in public service are aware and recognize this when we enter this noble profession.

"We understand the public's right to know."

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