Anne Arundel County’s chief administrative officer, fire chief, chief of police and director of public works are the county’s highest-paid employees in fiscal 2023, according to data obtained by The Capital.
The county’s top earner, according to personnel data acquired through a Maryland Public Information Act request, is Chief Administrative Officer Matt Power, who has a $219,349 salary this fiscal year.
Power, leaving next month to lead the Maryland Independent College and University Association, is one of five employees departing at the end of County Executive Steuart Pittman’s first term who are among Anne Arundel’s 30 highest-paid employees.
Chris Phipps, the county’s director of public works, is retiring after more than 27 years with the county. His $217,449 annual salary is tied for second-highest with Anne Arundel Fire Chief Trisha Wolford and Chief of Police Amal Awad.
The other departures are: Kai Boggess-de Bruin, Pittman’s chief of staff, who earns $205,390, the sixth-highest salary in the county; Pam Jordan, deputy chief administrative officer for health and human services, who earns $192,433, the ninth-highest salary; and Lori Rhodes, deputy chief administrative officer for land use, who earns a $183,211 annual salary.
The remaining six of the top 10 earners will be staying, including State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess, who has the fourth-highest salary at $209,716. Leitess recently won reelection after running unopposed.
Budget Officer Chris Trumbauer, the county’s fifth-highest earner, is paid $206,771 annually. County Attorney Greg Swain, has the seventh-highest salary at $200,859 and Superintendent of Detention Facilities Chris Klein is the eighth-highest earner at $194,900 annually.
Ben Birge, who led the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. until he left in June, was paid $212,339 annually, the third-highest county salary. The corporation’s administrative officer, Jill Seamon, is interim CEO as the county seeks a replacement.
This kind of turnover as a new term begins is normal, said Anne Budowski, county personnel officer.
“It is typical and expected that personnel changes occur as the administration’s second term begins,” Budowski said in an email Tuesday. “Several of the staff leaving are actually retiring after long careers with the county.”
Of the county’s top 20 earners, nine are women. The same was true last fiscal year.
Jordan, who has worked in Anne Arundel government for around 40 years, is retiring at the end of Pittman’s first term. Her salary is tied with 10 others, including Recreation and Parks Director Jessica Leys. Rhodes, another top-30 earner, is retiring as well.
Pittman will be retaining his $142,000 salary in a second term. While his salary hasn’t changed, his rank in the county’s employee list has, slipping from the 62nd-highest salary in fiscal 2022 to 82nd highest this year.
Pittman’s salary, and those of the County Council, have grown at a slower rate than other county employees. Between this fiscal year and last, five permanent county employees were added. Anne Arundel’s payroll rose from 4,388 permanent county employees to 4,393. However, the workforce of temporary employees shrunk from 1,960 in fiscal 2022 to 1,927 this fiscal year.
While the five permanent added positions were specific requests from departments like Animal Care and Control within the police department and the Office of Emergency Management, Budowski said she suspects the decrease in temporary positions is from changing county needs related to the pandemic.
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“My thought is that there are less temps this year due to no longer having the same need for the number of nurses from vaccination clinics,” she said. “Nurses hired to provide vaccinations through the Health Department were hired as temp employees.”
Pay among the county’s highest earners has also risen this year. Salary data shows 835 people make $100,000 or more this fiscal year, up from 684 people who made $100,000 or more in fiscal 2022.
One group with a more modest salary is County Council, including Jessica Haire, the Republican council member from Edgewater who recently lost her bid for county executive against Pittman.
Haire and the other council members besides the chair and vice chair, including Sarah Lacey, a Jessup Democrat, Allison Pickard, a Glen Burnie Democrat, Nathan Volke, a Pasadena Republican, and Amanda Fiedler, an Arnold Republican, are some of the county’s lowest-paid permanent employees. Council member is a part-time role, unlike county executive. Council members each earned $41,132 this year. Last fiscal year they made $40,327 each. Current council members have received slight raises every year over the past four years.
The three new council members, Democrat Pete Smith in District 1, Democrat Julie Hummer in District 4 and Republican Shannon Leadbetter in District 7 will soon be added to the payroll. They will be replacing Lacey, Andrew Pruski, a Gambrills Democrat, and Haire, respectively.
With another pandemic year under the county’s belt, Budowski said the county continues adjusting to a new kind of work environment and filling positions during a labor shortage.
“One of the biggest changes from last year to this year was to solidify the county’s ability to provide consistent services to residents while having portions of the workforce telework,” she said. “Additionally, the county continued to be creative in the area of recruiting as both public and private employers vie for a smaller applicant pool.”