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Harford council proposes raises of more than $6,000 for itself

Harford County Councilman Jim McMahan, who sponsored a bill to raise the council's salaries, speaks at a meeting Tuesday.
Harford County Councilman Jim McMahan, who sponsored a bill to raise the council's salaries, speaks at a meeting Tuesday. (BRYNA ZUMER | AEGIS STAFF)

The Harford County Council introduced a bill Tuesday that would give the next council president a $6,398 annual pay increase, while council members would get $6,484 more each year.

The bill proposes raising the council president's salary to $47,000 and the council members' salaries to $43,500 each, starting July 1, 2019.

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The council president's current salary is $40,310 and the council members are paid $36,750 each, Harford County spokesman Ben Lloyd said earlier. All the members also received a salary increase of 0.73 percent on July 1, as the county code states the council can get pay increases based on the Consumer Price Index.

The bill also clarifies that, starting in 2019, the County Council would not receive an annual increase based on the CPI unless the members of the county classified service receive an increase.

The bill was proposed by Councilman Jim McMahan, who represents greater Bel Air. In 2014, McMahan supported a proposal to raise council salaries; it ultimately was withdrawn when then-Council President Billy Boniface said he couldn't get enough votes and then-Harford County Executive David Craig said he would veto it.

Dick Slutzky, the current council president, was the only council member to publicly oppose the legislation at the time.

McMahan said earlier he expects some in the public will not like the legislation but pointed out county employees have received raises of 1 percent last fiscal year and 3 percent at the start of this fiscal year.

Councilman Mike Perrone has already said he would not support council raises at this time.

If the raises are approved, Harford County Council members would still be earning less than their counterparts in Baltimore and Howard counties.

The Baltimore County Council approved raises for itself in 2014 that gave the council members $62,500 annually and the council chairperson $70,000, while Howard County council members were earning $57,086 the same year, according to The Sun.

Harford County elected officials had been earning less than those in any neighboring jurisdictions in 2013, according to salary data from the Maryland Association of Counties, as reported by The Sun in 2014.

The Baltimore City Council President was making more than $100,000 in 2013, and council members were also earning more than $61,000, according to The Sun.

The Cecil County Council, meanwhile, just voted down legislation that would have brought the council members' salaries up to $27,000, according to the Cecil Whig.

Klein, Riley remembered

Also at Tuesday's council meeting, McMahan expressed his condolences to the Klein family on the death of Shirley Klein, a major benefactor of University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health and the matriarch of the family known for the Klein's ShopRite supermarket chain.

Klein died Monday, the family said. McMahan said her son, Howard Klein, called him Monday to let him know.

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"If you grew up in Harford County, as I did, all my life, the Kleins were always a part of Harford County," McMahan said, noting they maintained the Klein name identification even after they joined the ShopRite chain.

He also said no one "has given back more to Harford County than the Klein family. All you have to do is visit the Upper Chesapeake Medical Center and look at the picture of [the Kleins]... on the facade of the Klein Ambulatory Care Center."

"They have given millions of dollars quietly, unassumingly, asking nothing in return," McMahan said.

Councilman Chad Shrodes also recognized the Kleins, saying "they have given so much to our schools" as well as numerous non-profits.

Perrone, meanwhile, noted the death of former state Del. B. Daniel Riley, an Edgewood resident who died on Aug. 31.

Perrone said many have recalled his major influence as a teacher at Magnolia Middle School.

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