Advertisement
Carroll County Times
Carroll County News

Carroll County commissioners propose 22.3% salary increase for sheriff’s office in fiscal 2023

Carroll County commissioners on Tuesday released a proposed $708.4 million fiscal 2023 budget, which includes a 22.3% increase to salaries, including pension and payroll costs, for the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office. That is on top of a 14% increase for the sheriff’s office in fiscal 2022.

County staff had initially proposed a 4% salary increase for the sheriff’s office in fiscal 2023, totaling $800,000. Commissioners added $2.9 million to that.

Advertisement

In the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, commissioners “added a similar amount of money on top of the 4% planned increase and that lifted (the sheriff’s office) to a 14% change,” said Ted Zaleski, director of budget and management for the county.

“This is [an] incredible demonstration of commissioners’ commitment to funding our law enforcement,” Zaleski said during a meeting with commissioners Tuesday. “I don’t even know what words to use to say how big this was.”

Advertisement

Fiscal 2023 begins July 1. According to documents prepared by the Department of Management and Budget, one of the main goals of the 2023 budget is to address lagging compensation for Carroll County government employees. A little more than $7 million has been set aside for a plan addressing the county’s ability to retain and attract government staff.

“For many positions, we can’t compete with the private sector, but in recent years the number of positions where that is true have grown. As the private sector reacts to their own labor challenges, we are finding pressure on more and more positions,” the fiscal 2023 proposed budget document states. “Some commissioners actions in the proposed budget are intended to ease these problems.”

Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees said his department presented a study to commissioners last year comparing law enforcement compensation in Carroll County with other agencies in the state.

“We believe a good target to attract high-quality police deputies would be in the 50th percentile of those organizations,” he said. “This means if Howard County is the highest paid and Frederick County is the fifth highest, Carroll should be in the middle of Howard and Frederick.”

A plan was created at that time to bring law enforcement and correctional deputy salaries up to the desired level. Two lump sums were granted to the sheriff’s office by commissioners: $2 million last year and $2.9 million this year.

Commissioner President Ed Rothstein, a District 5 Republican, said ensuring Carroll has a safe and secure environment and confidence in the services provided by fire and EMS, along with the sheriff’s office, is his priority.

“In order to recruit and retain the best individuals, we need to keep a competitive compensation in place,” he said. “For years Carroll has dealt with noncompetitive compensation and became a strong training ground for the men and women in blue.”

Advertisement

For fiscal 2023, Carroll County Public Schools was set to receive $6.4 million in the county budget, a 3.13% increase over this year. The school system had requested $4 million in additional funds for fiscal 2023, which would have brought the total to $10.4 million, but ultimately, commissioners decided to set aside half that amount, $2 million, bringing the total to $8.4 million for county public schools.

When asked why the board made a significant commitment in this budget to increase pay for law enforcement but only funded half of the school board’s request, Rothstein said commissioners are not prioritizing police over schools.

“Every priority provided to us is important, but we have the responsibility to measure that importance and provide the best we can,” he said. “Looking at other funding sources, the schools get state and federal funding that the sheriff’s office doesn’t.”

At the request of DeWees, commissioners also agreed to move up construction funding for the sheriff’s office headquarters project from fiscal years 2025 and 2026 to fiscal years 2023 and 2024. This means operating budget impacts will come sooner than planned.

According to concept plans, the two-story building will include 40,000 square feet of space and cost about $30.4 million.

Advertisement

In addition to police and schools funding, commissioners approved requests from the Carroll County Public Library system, including $200,000 in ongoing funds for salary increases and $1.1 million in one-time funds for technology upgrades. For Carroll Community College, they proposed $2.4 million for construction of an artificial turf field, $500,000 for a 2% salary increase for employees, and $200,000 for maintenance projects.

As the county is in the process of developing its first combination fire and EMS department, commissioners committed to $4 million in ongoing funds to fire administration, largely for the hiring of 234 EMS employees.

Advertisement

Zaleski noted that $4 million has been set aside in 2023 for the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund, for the future expansion of the Northern Landfill.

Advertisement
Carroll County Breaking News

Carroll County Breaking News

As it happens

When big news breaks, be the first to know.

The fiscal 2023 budget consists of 13 funds, including $501.3 million in the general or operating fund and $121 million in the capital fund, which covers construction costs. The proposed county budget is now subject to community feedback and will be the topic of a public hearing at 7 p.m., May 10, at the Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster.

Zaleski noted that the ultimate decisions on budgeting lies with the commissioners.

Advertisement

“If you want to advocate for or against something in the budget, the path you should take is to contact commissioners because the policy decisions belong to them,” Zaleski said.

Final adoption of the fiscal 2023 Carroll County budget is set for May 24.


Advertisement