Prince George's County sheriff proposes future pay bump

Local,Maryland,Matt Connolly,Prince Georges County

The Prince George's County sheriff should be making more money -- at least according to the Prince George's County sheriff.

Sheriff Melvin High submitted a bill to the Prince George's Maryland House delegation that would bump the position's salary up more than 30 percent by 2018. The pay raise would not necessarily affect him -- the change would take effect after the next sheriff election in 2014.

High makes $132,734, an amount that hasn't changed since he was elected in 2010. Under his proposal, that would jump to $154,000 in fiscal 2014, then climb about $5,000 a year before plateauing at $174,734 in 2018. His office calls the raise a matter of fairness.

Source: Maryland Association of Counties

Highest-paid sheriffs in Md.
Montgomery County $154,000
Prince George's County $132,734
Anne Arundel County $128,064
Charles County $124,387
Baltimore $114,050

"What we want to do for this is achieve parity with different jurisdictions by population demographics and geography," said Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Sharon Taylor. "The salary structure hasn't changed since 2006."

Taylor contrasted Prince George's County with Montgomery, which has the state's highest-paid sheriff at a $154,000. Prince George's sheriff is second-highest, while the state average is $92,604. While sheriffs in Maryland perform primary police duties, they also maintain detention facilities and perform court duties such as serving warrants and acting as bailiffs.

The proposal comes at a time when most governments have been hesitant to raise salaries. In fiscal 2011 and 2012, 22 of Maryland's 24 counties gave no pay increases at all to employees, according to Maryland Association of Counties Legislative Director Andrea Mansfield.

"Generally speaking, across county governments, there haven't been a lot of raises," Mansfield said. "Over the past few years, most counties gave no increases at all, and some did furloughs to try and balance their budgets."

Earlier this week, however, Montgomery County reached a tentative deal to give members of its employees union a 13.5 percent raise over the next two years. Howard County's delegation is also considering a bill to raise the salary of its sheriff, though that one would automatically give the sheriff a raise whenever police lieutenants get one.

Prince George's House Delegation Chairwoman Jolene Ivey said the pay increase was necessary and that the county should consider raising the salaries of other positions.

"This isn't an unreasonable amount of money," she said. "If we don't do more to fairly compensate people, we're going to have a hard time continuing to draw people who are highly qualified for these positions."

She added that bringing Prince George's salary in line with Montgomery's was a big factor in supporting the raise.

"I cannot believe that the Montgomery County sheriff's department is working as hard as ours," she said. "I think that our sheriff deserves more than theirs."

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