Friday, Jan 29–Commissioners Unified Against Pay Raises

SNOW HILL – No one working for the Worcester County government is likely to get a raise in salary this year, with the Worcester County Commissioners recently taking the decisive step of freezing their own compensation at current levels.

Worcester’s elected officials recently passed a resolution holding their salary and expense compensation at the same level through 2014 as established for their current term in office.

The commissioners unanimously voted to forego their expected raise, leaving the $25,000-a-year salary frozen for the next four years. Each commissioner will also be kept at a $250-a-month travel and expense allowance.

Commissioner salaries by law cannot be changed during their term in office, but may only be increased during an election year for the next term.

“The commissioners don’t get any incremental raises or anything,” said Commissioner Judy Boggs.

The commissioners automatically receive a cost of living increase equal to the cost of living raises to staff at the start of each new term in office, with action only needed if elected officials choose to forego the increase.

The most recent salary increase took place in 2006 to keep pace with cost of living adjustments offered to county government staff, after eight years of static pay.

With the salary freeze, each commissioner gave up an additional $3,125 in pay for the part-time elected position. The commissioners’ decision will save the county $21,875.

According to the latest staff reports, the county is facing a sharp reduction in revenue for fiscal year 2011 compared to the current fiscal year.

The planned salary increase for the jurisdiction’s highest elected officials would have been equal to the cost of living increases given to all other county employees over the last four years, which totals a 12.5-percent increase.

In the current fiscal year, county employees did not receive any cost of living salary increases. The county acknowledges that any cost of living raise for government staff is unlikely to be part of the fiscal year 2011 budget as well.

Commissioner Louise Gulyas said the commissioners could not give themselves a raise if they were not going to give county staff a raise.