Delegates support pay raise for Pr. George’s sheriff, despite county budget challenges

February 21, 2013

Prince George’s County is facing a $152 million shortfall, but that hasn’t deterred state lawmakers representing the county in Annapolis from supporting a request from the county sheriff for a pay raise. A vote is scheduled for Friday in the county’s House delegation, with the county Senate delegation the next stop.

Sheriff Melvin High (D) earns $132,734 a year. Under his proposal, the sheriff’s salary would increase to $154,000 after next year’s election, and would increase about $5,000 per year annually after that. High told lawmakers this week that his office is often the busiest in the state, transporting prisoners, safeguarding courthouses, delivering warrants, and handling evictions.

His pitch drew a sympathetic response from several members of the county House delegation at a hearing Tuesday night in Annapolis, but it was amended by Del. Doyle Niemann (D-Prince George’s) on Wednesday in a committee hearing to make the sheriff’s pay the equivalent of a sitting Circuit Court judge. That judicial salary is $140, 352, and will rise a total of 8 percent by 2016 to $154,433.

If the measure is approved by the House delegation, it would then go to the county’s Senate delegation and eventually to the full General Assembly. Usually, local bills are approved by the full legislature without dissent.

High said that the proposed pay increase would put his office on par with neighboring jurisdictions in Montgomery and Fairfax counties.

For comparison, the Prince George’s county executive is paid $185,000, about $5,000 more than Montgomery’s county executive is paid. The county’s police chief is paid $180,000, lower than many in the region.

Prince George’s County Council members earn about $102,486 annually for jobs that are considered part-time, and rules allow them to earn other income, although few do. The council’s pay is among the highest in the region.

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