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Harford County

Harford state's attorney won't get increase in base salary

The next Harford County state's attorney will not get the proposed salary increase introduced through legislation during the 2014 General Assembly, which wrapped up Monday night.

The legislation, which was sponsored by southern Harford Sen. Nancy Jacobs, passed the Senate with ease in late February but was buried in a House of Delegates committee for more than a month and never got to the floor for a full vote.


Some of the county's delegates say the bill was handled wrong.

Northern Harford Del. Wayne Norman, who supported the raise, said the bill did not pass because it came into the House too late from the Senate.


"If we would have gotten it early we probably could have gotten it through," Norman said.

He said the House passed about five other local officials salary bills during the session.

"I'm extremely disappointed the House didn't pass this raise," Jacobs said about the bill's failure to move through the House Environmental Matters Committee. "[Current State's Attorney] Joe Cassilly makes much less than his assistant. And he makes much less than other state's attorneys across the state. This man works extremely hard and he is overworked and underpaid."

Jacobs' Senate Bill 475, which passed the Senate 46-0, would have raised the state's attorney's base salary of $98,500, which has been raised to $112,044 through annual adjustments based on increases in the Consumer Price Index, to $125,000 from 2014 to 2016 and then to $130,000 in 2017.

The state's attorney also would continue to receive an annual increase based on CPI, which would not exceed 3 percent in any given year. The CPI increase is not affected by the failure of the legislation raising the base salary.

The base salary increase would have gone into effect after this November's general election, on Jan. 1, 2015 when the next state's attorney's term begins.

Cassilly, a Republican who has held office for almost 32 years, is running for re-election. He is opposed by Steven Trostle, a Democrat and prosecutor in Cecil County, who lives in Joppa.

Western Harford Del. Rick Impallaria, who chairs Harford's House delegation, said the delegation was unaware of the bill until the last few weeks of the session.


Historically, a state's attorney pay raise legislation is introduced on the House side not the Senate, Impallaria said Thursday.

Impallaria said the delegation also would have preferred to look at the salaries of all the local officials, such as the sheriff and register of wills, whose salaries are set by the state, instead of considering an increase for just one official.

"There is an automatic escalator in his salary," Impallaria said, referring to the annual CPI index raise. "It's not like he is frozen in where he is getting paid. He is making more than the sheriff makes and the sheriff has way more employees."

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Cassilly said he is grateful to Norman and Del. Susan McComas, who he said supported and advocated for the legislation in the House.

"The sort of discouraging thing is other state's attorneys make more than I do call me on brainstorming issues and solving problems and I work with them about working things through," Cassilly said.

Cassilly said the lack of local support of the state's attorney's salary increase makes him wonder if local officials think he is not doing a good job.


"I'm wondering what I'm not doing right that they won't support the bill in their own county," Cassilly said.

"Nobody seemed to have any trouble voting for [state's attorney's] raises for other counties," Jacobs said. "The only time you can raise a [state's attorney's] salary is during the election year."

Jacobs said it is local courtesy to vote yes on salary increases that are proposed by a county. She said she didn't believe the lack of support for the bill was because of any personal ill-will against Cassilly.

The Harford state's attorney base salary has not increased since 2005, when the base was raised from $90,000 to $98,500 effective Jan. 1, 2007.