In the weeks before the November election, the administration of Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary handed out $358,544 in bonuses to 165 county employees -- an action that raised the concern of the incoming county executive.
Newly elected County Executive Janet S. Owens is worried that the bonus system the former executive created may be vulnerable to abuse, and her administration may study whether to continue it, said her spokesman, Andrew C. Carpenter.
"Mrs. Owens wants to make sure the awards are being distributed in a fair and equitable manner," said Carpenter.
Among those receiving more than the average of $2,173 were Gary's wife, Ruthanne, the county's director of community services, who got $2,500, according to a list of bonuses released by the county yesterday after a request by two local newspapers.
Also winning large awards were Ronald Bowen in the county's Public Works Department, Michael Bonk in the county's Public Utility Department and James Pittman in the county's Solid Waste Department. All three received $6,974.
Four members of the county's Office of Budget and Finance won large bonuses. William Hagedorn, Raymond Elwell and Alfred Warfield each received $3,000; Frederick Lichteig received $4,500, according to county records.
The average size of the raises was about the same this year as last.
Just after the Nov. 3 election, The Sun and the Annapolis Capital newspapers asked County Personnel Officer Hilton E. Wade Jr. for lists of all county employees who received bonuses this fall as part of Gary's 3-year-old "pay for performance" system.
Wade declined the requests, saying that he discussed the matter with the county attorney's office and that cash bonuses do not fall within the Maryland Public Information Act's definition of compensation.
After receiving complaints about the decision, Owens asked the state attorney general's office for an opinion.
On Friday, that office informed Owens that bonuses are public information.
Pub Date: 12/23/98