In an attempt to end the confusion over official and actual salaries, Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden has proposed a 25 percent pay cut for the next county executive, but the move won't cost him a dime if he wins re-election.
The proposal, which Mr. Hayden will introduce at the County Council meeting Jan. 18, merely reduces his current official pay rate from $100,700 per year to his actual pay rate of $75,920 a year.
The bill also would grant annual pay raises matching those county workers receive, up to 4 percent per year. Under this proposal, the county executive elected in November 1994 could earn no more than $85,398 by December 1997.
The County Council is preparing its own bill to hold the line on council salaries. That bill seeks to continue the current official pay rate of $36,600 through the next four-year term that begins next December. If adopted, it would mean a $5,700-a-year pay increase for the next council. Currently council members are paid $30,900 a year.
The salary circus has its genesis in the last election. Before that, the county's elected officials had the pay schedule nicely laid out.
Tired of having to vote on large pay increases after each four-year term to catch up with inflation, the last council voted for graduated increases to cover the current term. However, the group that came into office in the 1990 elections decided not to accept the raises.
Consequently, the gap between official salaries and actual pay grew each year.
But because an elected official's pay legally cannot be changed during a term of office, the issue must be settled now, before the 1994 elections.
Mr. Hayden readily agreed that an executive in private business with his responsibilities could make $300,000 to $400,000 a year, but he said top executives' pay raises should be tied to that of workers in government and in private industry.
"It makes tremendous good sense that a chief executive officer take only raises that the people do," he said, adding that to leave the executive's official pay far above his actual salary would make no sense. "It wouldn't be right inside," he explained, adding that people have to feel they can relate to an elected leader.
Mr. Hayden said he didn't consult council members before making his decision, even though two councilmen are planning to run for county executive next year. He also did not ask the Personnel and Salary Advisory Board to recommend an executive pay scale for next term, even though the board recommends a pay scale for County Council salaries.
Pikesville's Councilman Melvin G. Mintz, D-2nd, one of those considering a bid for Mr. Hayden's job, was critical of Mr. Hayden's bill.
"I just think it's another old-style political scheme," said Mr. Mintz, who believes the personnel board should recommend a salary for the executive, just as it does for the council.
Council Chairman Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-3rd, who is already running for executive, was out of town celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary and was unavailable for comment.
Towson Councilman Douglas B. Riley, R-4th, and Perry Hall Councilman Vincent J. Gardina, D-5th, also criticized Mr. Hayden's move. Mr. Riley said he feels that an elected official's pay should not change during a term of office. Mr. Gardina said $75,920 is too low a starting point for a county executive, and worried that it would discourage good people from running for office.
Mr. Hayden's pay is lower than that of executives in Anne Arundel and Howard counties, but is higher than that of Baltimore's Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who is paid $60,000 a year. Anne Arundel pays $84,000, Howard pays $80,000 and Harford pays $65,000. If those rates don't change and the Baltimore County executive's pay increases 4 percent per year, the county would have the highest-paid executive in the area by December 1997.