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Pay raise for Prince George’s sheriff advances in Annapolis

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A proposal by Prince George’s Sheriff Melvin High for a pay raise for his office won a key approval Friday.

The Prince George’s House delegation voted 15-2 in favor of a measure that would tie pay increases for the sheriff to those given to circuit court judges.

High, who earns $132,734 annually, had asked the lawmakers to increase the office’s pay to $154,000 after next year’s election, and then increase it about $5,000 annually after that. Instead, the increase approved by the delegation will give the sheriff a pay hike to $140, 352 after the 2014 election, and then increase it a total of 8 percent by 2016 to $154,433.

The proposal came as the county is grappling with a $152 million budget gap.

Voting no were Dels. Dereck Davis (D) and Alonzo Washington (D). Dels. Barbara Frush (D) and Michael Summers (D) “passed,” which is the equivalent of abstaining. Dels. Melony Griffith, James Proctor, Joseph Vallario and Jay Walker, all Democrats, were absent.

The county’s Senate delegation is the next stop, and eventually the full General Assembly. Usually, local bills are approved by the full legislature without dissent.

High told lawmakers this week that his office is often the busiest in the state, transporting prisoners, safeguarding courthouses, delivering warrants, and handling evictions.

By comparison, the county’s executive is paid $185,000; the police chief $180,00; and the state’s attorney, the county’s chief prosecutor, is paid $150,000.

High’s proposal came as a late-filed bill from his office that the delegation had to agree to review, which members did earlier in the month. It was not proposed in time for the annual December hearing that county lawmakers hold in the county to review matters they plan to take up during the General Assembly session, but instead was the subject of a hearing Tuesday night in Annapolis.

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