UPDATED: Who Has Montgomery County Government's Highest Salary?
Hint: It isn’t the highest elected official in office.
UPDATED Tuesday, Oct. 11 — Some of the highest-paid government workers in Maryland live in Montgomery County, but the county worker with the highest salary isn’t the county executive, the position at the top of county government.
When it comes to the top salaries in Montgomery County government, County Executive Isiah Leggett’s $175,000 full-time salary didn’t even make the top 10, according to 2010 salary data Patch obtained from the county.
So who had the biggest salary in county government?
Based on 2010 salary data, Chief Administrative Officer Timothy Firestine’s $266,266 salary was the highest — nearly three times what most county households earned.
Montgomery County workers earned more than any other jurisdiction in the state by the end of 2010, averaging $1,326 in weekly pay, according data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Still, the median household income for Montgomery County residents was $94,420, according to the most recent data available from U.S. Census.
Who sets county salaries?
The salaries of department heads and political appointees are proposed by the county executive and must be approved by the Montgomery County Council, explained Councilman Phil Andrews, D-Gaithersburg, a former but longtime member of the council’s Management and Fiscal Policy Committee.
But the county executive doesn’t determine everybody’s salary. The council, for example, appoints and determines the salary the director of council staff, Andrews said.
The county charter determines the salaries of Leggett and the council — $94,351, for the council; $103,787 for the council president in 2010.
Other positions are merit-based, Andrews said.
But it seems that even in one of the state’s wealthiest counties, it pays to work in government. Here are the top 10 county salaries for 2010:
Note: County employees had their salaries reduced by required furloughs and did not receive pay raises; Patch has included the amounts for whom amounts were listed, according to data obtained from the county. Also, data do not include other parts of local government, including the school system, and park and planning.
- $266,266 — Timothy Firestine, Chief Administrative Officer. Compensation doesn’t include $1,944.30 deducted for furlough days.
- $216,603 — Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger. Compensation doesn’t include $2,105.58 deducted for furlough days.
- $210,621 — Arthur M. Wallenstein, director, Department of Correction and Rehabilitation. Wallenstein. Compensation doesn’t include $2,105.58 deducted for furlough days.
- $206,492— Uma S. Ahluwalia, director, Department of Health and Human Services; Ahluwalia. Compensation doesn’t include $3,218.38 deducted for furlough days.
- $205,695 — Stephen B. Farber, director of council staff. Compensation doesn’t include $1,944.30 deducted for furlough days.
- $201, 058 — Richard Y. Nelson, director, Housing & Community Affairs. Compensation doesn’t include $2,105.58 deducted for furlough days.
- $195,624 — Jennifer E. Barrett, director, Department of Finance. Compensation doesn’t include $2,105.58 deducted for furlough days.
- $195,247 —Joseph Adler, director, Human Resources. Compensation doesn’t include $1,944.30 deducted for furlough days.
- $194,537 (3-way tie) — Joseph F. Beach, director, Office of Management and Budget; E. Steven Emanuel, director, Information Systems & Telecommunications; Carla A. Reid, director, Department of Permitting Services. For Emanuel, compensation does not include $1,944.30 deducted for furlough days. County data did not provide furlough deduction amounts for Beach and Reid.
- $193,766 — Arthur Holmes, director, Department of Transportion. County data did not provide a furlough deduction amount for Holmes.
This story has been updated to address multiple errors that emerged since it was published Sept. 6. The data Patch received from Montgomery County included salaries for employees that had been terminated and did not specify whether the employees were still working for the county; the data listed full-time salaries for part-time employees. Also, furlough days were taken out of the listed county employees’ paychecks and were not donations. The data is based on the calendar year but the furloughs were calculated on the fiscal year, consequently, the data only show a half year's worth. Joseph Adler is the director of Montgomery County’s Department of Human Resources.