Harford County Executive David Craig does not support the plan to give council members and the next County Executive pretty sizable raises and has promised to veto the bill if it comes across his desk.
The proposal comes at a time when teachers in Harford County say a salary freeze has forced many of them to find work somewhere else.
The head of the union representing them says 270 teachers chose to leave the system this year. Many of the teachers, he said, left because for five of the past six years they have not gotten the raises promised to them in their contract.
“We're basically the lowest paid system in the state,” said Ryan Burbey, president of the Harford County Education Association.
The Harford County Council has introduced a proposal that would increase the county executive's salary from $90,000 a year to $130,000.
The base salaries for council members would go from $31,000 to $45,000.
“I just don't even know why it's being considered. It represents an utter lack of leadership that it was even introduced,” Burbey said.
On Monday, current County Executive David Craig, whose term expires later this year, told ABC2 News he will veto the legislation if it passes.
“It's not fair to give the elected officials a pay raise that's higher, or before you give the county employees, the teachers, the deputies a pay raise,” he said.
As for the lack of raises for teachers, Craig says the county is still recovering from the economic collapse of 2008.
“Maybe we couldn't give them a pay raise but we didn't eliminate their positions. They need to understand that many of their neighbors who might not have been working in the government section may have lost their job or may have lost much of their salary,” he said.
The school system has been hiring new teachers to replace the ones who left. A spokeswoman for the system says there are now only about 21 vacancies, mostly in areas like special education where many systems have shortages.
Burbey said finding new teachers is only the start. Keeping them long-term, he added, is the real challenge.
“It gets to a point where what you really want in a school system is consistency and if you can't provide that to your kids or to your teachers than you're failing them,” Burbey said.
The Harford County Council is set to vote on the raises next month. County Executive Craig said if they pass he will veto them, but there could be enough votes on the council to override his veto.
Meanwhile, a Bel Air parent has launched a petition to force Harford County officials to search line-by-line for waste in the county's budget to find funding to pay teachers.