Hornberger Announces Signing and Retention Bonuses and Salary Adjustments

Elkton, MD: For the last 15 years, the cost of living has increased at a rate which has outpaced pay adjustments in Cecil County.  Coupled with an ongoing salary disparity, it has become increasingly difficult for Cecil County to hire and retain talented employees across all levels of government.

As we have witnessed across the country, and specifically within our own County, gas prices have nearly doubled, and regional employers are now forced to pay nearly $40,000 per year for entry level employees (not including signing bonuses). Additionally, State and Federal programs have increased unemployment rates and created labor shortages industry wide. 

Finally, due to national and state movements to defund and marginalize law enforcement, many jurisdictions are experiencing unprecedented staffing losses in public safety.

To combat these losses, overcome the historic salary disparity, as well as to attract qualified applicants, the County Executive has authorized the implementation of Phase 3 of the 2017 salary study (Phase 1 and Phase 2 were implemented in FY19 and FY20; Phase 3 was cancelled due to the fiscal uncertainties surrounding Covid).  In addition, the County will offer a 6% cost of living adjustment (COLA) for non-union employees as well as the following targeted signing and retention adjustments for particularly hard-hit employment groups:

1.  $15,000 signing bonus for entry level Detention Center Officers, a $10,000 bonus for lateral transfers, and a $5,000 retention bonus;

2.  a bonus step raise for Prosecutors in the State Attorney’s Office;

3.  $5,000 signing bonus for Sheriff Deputies; and

4.  a bonus two step raise for Dispatchers, whom are currently the second lowest paid in the State of Maryland;

As previously agreed, Unionized Sheriff Deputies already received an extra bonus step raise in September of this year; a retroactive 3% Cola raise; a FY-22 anniversary step raise; and a recent $1,000 state grant funded bonus, which put first year compensation packages over $50,000. In addition, the County Executive authorized a salary increase for lateral hires from other jurisdictions effective October 1, 2021. IAFF Union members (Paramedics and EMTs) are not included in this salary adjustment as they recently received a 3.2% Cola raise and are currently in union contract negotiations.

“Given the labor shortages, historic pay disparity and pressure from neighboring jurisdictions, these bonuses and modest compensation adjustments are the only way to retain and attract qualified employees to serve the citizens of Cecil County”, said County Executive Danielle Hornberger. “I would also like to emphasize that these salary adjustments are being absorbed through a combination of Federal money and internal savings”.

Specifically, the County will use Federal CARES Act money as well as money approved, but not spent in the prior fiscal year to pay for these salary adjustments. In addition, the Administration will present a Resolution to the County Council for authorization to execute the fund transfer.  The total cost for these adjustments are expected to be about $1 million dollars for FY22.

“I commend Ms. Hornberger for her leadership on this tough issue and for being transparent with both the public and the County Council,” said Council President Bob Meffley, “As President of the Council, I am pleased that we have worked with the County Executive to support the recently approved budget and tax reduction for residents and now are addressing the pay needs of our valued county workers”.

The County’s Department of Human Resources will be reaching out to employees concerning expected salary adjustments and the timing of that increase, if any, as some employees have already received their salary adjustment.

For media inquiries, please contact Kevin Alkinburg at kalkinburg@ccgov.org or 410-996-8454.