The following were among actions taken at Monday's meeting of the Howard County Council. For more information, call 992-2001.
PAY RAISES FOR TOP EMPLOYEES -- In a 3-to-2 decision, the council voted to award pay raises totaling $55,000 to the county's top 28 employees.
The raises, which have been the topic of several work sessions since early last month, were recommended by County Executive Elizabeth Bobo in December after a study found that the salaries of top Howard County government employees were 17 percent lower than those of top government employees in other Washington and Baltimore area counties.
The raises, which average about 7 percent, go into effect in July and will apply to 28 positions including the county administrator, the police chief and the director of public works. Salaries range from $24,921 to $70,289.
Council member C. Vernon Gray, who voted against the bill, recommended a 30-day extension to study the legislation further. When that amendment was rejected, he introduced four additional amendments in what he said was an attempt to "minimize the fiscal impact of the legislation." Gray said that he was "not opposed to an increase" but wanted to look for alternatives such as phasing in the raises over a period of two years.
Council member Charles Feaga opposed the raises entirely, contending that present salaries are adequate. "It isn't true that we can't get quality people because we don't pay well. We should act like a business and find good quality employees at the price we pay."
Council member Angela Beltram, who with council member Shande Pendergrass and Council Chairwoman Ruth Keeton supported the pay raises, said, "These are the positions that make the county run. I depend on these people for the people in the communities."
ANIMAL MATTERS BOARD -- The council confirmed the appointment of Carolyn Ratliff to the Animal Matters Hearing Board. The seven members on the board, who serve five-year terms, review the budget for the animal control facility and make recommendations regarding the care and control of stray animals to the Animal Control Officer.
BOARD APPOINTMENTS -- The council heard recommendations from County Executive Elizabeth Bobo to appoint the following individuals to county boards and commissions. The council is to consider the appointments at its March 7 meeting following interviews with the candidates.John W. Billet to the Public Transportation Board; Mary Ann Gardes to the Historic District Commission; Russell W. Gledhill to the Ethics Commission; Janis George, Jean Henyon, Susan B. Herbel, and Marilyn W. Smith to the Commission for Women; Robert J. Hazelton Jr. and Louis A. Spittel to the Plumbing Code Advisory Board; Michael Hickey to the Personnel Board; David Marker, Lucie Pelgrim and Jetie B. Wilds Jr. to the Human Rights Commission; Juanita S. Robinson to the Commission on Aging; Clinton Sellers to the Public Works Board.
BOARD OF HEALTH REQUIREMENTS -- The council voted unanimously to redefine the term "lay person" as it applies to Health Board members to allow individuals to serve on the board who have served in the health care profession, but not within five years of their appointment.
The Health Board, which reviews health-related matters, cites health code violations and advises the council and county executive on health issues, is made up of seven members -- four health care professionals and three lay people -- who serve five-year terms.