Salary Increases Advised For Wicomico Elected Officials

SALISBURY – A countywide commission presented recommendations to the Wicomico County Council this week that would increase the salary of elected officials.

On Tuesday, the Wicomico County Compensation and Allowance Commission presented a report to the Wicomico County Council outlining a suggested salary increase for county executive, Wicomico County sheriff and county council positions.

Memo Diriker, chair of the commission, said the commission meets every four years to discuss and recommend potential salary changes for elected positions.

Currently, the county executive position is paid $85,000 a year, the sheriff is paid $95,000 a year, the council president is paid $18,000 a year, the council vice president is paid $17,000 a year and the remaining councilmembers are paid $16,000 a year.

Based on their research, the commission recommended salary increases for each of these positions.

“We are recommending that the executive position be $130,000, the sheriff position be $105,000, the county council president $20,000, the vice president $18,000 and for a councilmember position $17,000,” Diriker said.

The report states the executive position is “woefully undercompensated.” According to the commission, the county executive salary has not increased since the position was first created in 2006 and is the lowest paid county executive position in the state. The average salary for a county executive in Maryland is $150,715.

Councilman John Hall questioned whether larger counties across the bay should be excluded from the commission’s research in setting a salary for elected positions in Wicomico County.

“When you did your research on this, you took into account all the counties in the state of Maryland,” he said. “So this was an average based on all those counties rather than all of the counties on the Eastern Shore.”

Diriker said the commission used certain methodology provided by the Maryland Association of Counties to make a recommendation.

“We looked at all the counties, but we also tried to standardize the compensation using two variables, the size of the budget of each county and the population of each county,” he said. “This year we added a third variable, which was the number of employees in each county. … We don’t take it as a dollar amount. We take it per capita … to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges.”

Council President John Cannon commended the commission for their efforts and suggested the discussion continue at a future meeting.

“Thank you to all the committee members that are hear tonight for taking the time to put this together …,” he said. “We will certainly have a work session on this.”

If approved, the salary increases will take effect after the next election cycle in 2018.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.