On Monday, October 30th, Montgomery County Executive Isaiah Leggett delivered some unpleasant news to County Council members. In a meeting to discuss a bill that would increase Councilors’ salaries, he voiced his belief that current pay is sufficient and deemed any increase in pay superfluous. The legislation under scrutiny passed on October 22nd, granting raises to all newly installed Councilors for the 2014 fiscal year. When asked why he opposed the wage increases, Leggett simply replied, “I just think that at this time it is somewhat inappropriate. It’s pretty large.”
The disputed pay raise accounts for a 17.5 percent increase from last year’s $106,394. The pay raise was recommended by a seven-member committee, which claimed that increased demands on Councilors and a previously approved 2.2 percent cost of living adjustment warrant higher wages.
The nine-member County Council serves as Montgomery County’s legislative branch, and reviewing and passing new laws to be implemented by the County Executive. Veto overrides require a 6-member vote. This pay raise bill passed with an 8-1 vote, despite sole dissenter Phil Andrews (D-Dist. 3).
Several Councilors had previously voiced concerns over the anticipated veto, believing that they deserved the raises, but also remained understandably cautious regarding the public’s reaction. Constituents have been generally displeased with the pay raise proposal, with opinions ranging from mild disapproval to appalled disbelief. Factor in a looming election season, and it is easy to understand Councilors’ unease at counterting Leggett’s disapproval.
Although Leggett refused to sign the bill, he relinquished his power of veto and acquiesced to its automatic passage. The bill will go into effect in December 2014.
Article by Mahya Bigdeli, MoCo Student staff writer