From Harford County government:
Today, County Executive David R. Craig vetoed County Council Bill 14-27, which if enacted would raise the base salary of the Harford County Executive from $90,000 to $130,000.
County Executive Craig attached the following message with the vetoed bill that was returned to the Council:
In July 2005, when I became the county executive, the economy of our country, our state, and our county was in excellent shape. Jobs were being created which helped raise the income tax base and revenue. The volume of home construction and the value of existing homes were increasing which helped raise the property tax base and revenue.
Property tax revenue is the largest source of funding for Harford County government, providing 51% of total revenue on an annual basis. From FY06 to FY09 it was increasing by an average of $20 million a year.
Because of this, the county was able to negotiate on a regular basis to provide step increases and COLA’s to its valued employees as well as those in outside agencies such as the Sheriff’s office, the public library, and the school system. Pay raises had been inconsistent from 1992 to 2005. In my first four years in office, however, they were consistent – a step and 3% COLA each year.
At the same time, the salary of the incumbent county executive increased annually based on the CPI. The adjustments were:
2007 2.5% $ 95,387
2008 4.1% $ 99,297
2009 1.0% $ 99,397
2010 2.7% $102,080
These pay raises had been authorized by Bill 99-34 which was enacted six years prior to my taking office. It also affected the salary of the county council.
Then in 2008 (FY2009) the economy was drastically affected. This meant that to keep our county solid and stable, some changes needed to take place until the economy recovered.
Property tax revenues over the following five budget years were greatly impacted. Instead of increasing $20 million a year, it only increased $2 million over the entire five years. If the economy had continued in the way it had previously, property tax revenue in FY2015 would have been $350 million — $100 million more than it currently is. This would have enabled the administration to continue providing justifiable pay raises to all employees.
Being fiscally prudent, however, was very important. While pay raises were not provided five out of the six years, the administration did provide a 4% raise in FY13. Unfortunately the rise in federal social security taxes undermined this. Many did not see that they had received a pay raise which was retroactive.
In FY12 the administration submitted legislation to provide a bonus to employees. The bonus was to ensure that employees at least received extra funds that year with the hope that revenues would allow for a pay raise soon after that.
The depressing aspect of this was that the County Council, which now wants to give the county executive the highest salary, $130,000, amended the bonus legislation and cut the bonus in half for the employees. County Council President Boniface and Council Members Woods, McMahan, Slutzky, and Lisanti voted for the cut. Councilmen Guthrie and Shrodes abstained.
As the current county executive, my largest regret has been that the economy made it difficult to provide pay raises. Because of that, in FY10 and FY11 I remitted the entire pay raise that I received back to the County Treasury. I also introduced legislation to restrict the pay increase of the county executive so that it could never be higher, by percentage, than that given to the employees. The council did support that legislation (10-06). Without that legislation the salary of the county executive would be $110,379, $6,000 more than I currently receive.
The County Council wisely withdrew Bill 14-28 to give the next Council a pay raise. The same action should have taken place with Bill 14-27, which gives the next county executive a significant pay raise and which will cost county taxpayers $100,000. This equals the amount saved by cutting the bonus for some 160 employees. If the Council chooses to override this Executive Veto, I feel that the next county executive should remit the increase or the next Council should repeal the legislation if they truly value the work of the employees.
Therefore, I VETO Bill 14-27.