Letter: An unjust situation in employee pay
I wish to address the article in the Nov. 23 issue of the Gazette-Journal concerning the Mathews Board of Supervisors’ funding policies for Constitutional Officer employees. First, let me make it perfectly clear that Constitutional Officer employees are not county employees. They serve at the will and under the authority of the individual Constitutional Officer. Our forefathers devised this system almost two centuries ago to ensure that local governments cannot control and manipulate these employees. The salaries of the employees are set by the State Compensation Board based on population and duties. The state pays a portion of the salary and the locality must pay the balance. To make these jobs more attractive to qualified applicants, many localities supplement these salaries since they are usually much lower than the salaries of local employees.
About a year and a half ago, the Mathews Board of Supervisors tried to divert funds from DMV, intended by state law for employees of the Treasurer and Commissioner for compensation for performing DMV Select duties, in order to pay the county’s share of the salaries. The Auditor of Public Accounts (not the State Compensation Board as erroneously reported in the article) ordered the supervisors to restore the misappropriated funding to the employees. As a result, the supervisors are now threatening to reduce the already ridiculously low salaries of these employees by lowering the locality share. This action is being proposed without any input from or notification to the Constitutional Officers whatsoever.
Constitutional Officer’s employees in the Treasurer’s and Commissioner of the Revenue’s offices are the lowest paid employees in Mathews. We have employees, mothers of two children, whose take home pay is $205 a week. At a time last year that the Board of Supervisors was asking departments to find drastic budget cuts, the assistant to the County Administrator received a salary increase of $6,569 to bring her salary to $45,991. When asked why, we were told that it was because of an increase of workload. However, when the county went to bi-annual billing for real estate taxes or when we started personal property proration or when we converted from county stickers to vehicle license fees, these extra duties created a tremendous increase in workload for Constitutional Officer employees, but they never were given a pay increase. How can this obviously unjust situation be justified?
These employees work in an environment that most people will not have to experience. They are the brunt of verbal abuse, insinuations and threats. Still, they remain dedicated to their jobs and work diligently and faithfully to fulfill their duties. We all realize that we are in a financial crisis and that reductions in our local spending are required. However, the citizens of Mathews need to realize that a further reduction in the already ridiculously low pay of these employees may ultimately result in reduction of services and office hours. The supervisors stated in the article that when an employee is replaced by a new employee, the new employee should start at the very bottom of the pay scale. Let’s just see what the salary reduction will be for Mr. Whiteway’s replacement next year. Why do members of the Board of Supervisors feel that they need to have such control over these employees?
Raymond A. Hunley, MCR
Commissioner of the Revenue