Cecil County Executive Danielle Hornberger publicly blasted the County Council for allegedly "defunding the police," after the council voted not to fund bonuses for new hires and pay adjustments.
The county government released a press release today criticizing the vote.
Hornberger said she is "stunned" that two councilmen were able to "defund our public safety employees."
Human Resources director Angelia Lawson noted in a statement that this also means the Sheriff's Office will be forced to cancel its marketing campaign, including Route 40 billboards that highlighted signing bonuses.
"Unfortunately, this reversal will have a chilling effect on attracting and retaining public safety employees," said Lawson.
Hornberger had supported a 6 percent cost-of-living adjustment for all critical county employees, as well as bonus and pay adjustments for the Sheriff's Office, detention center, 911 dispatchers, State's Attorneys, and other public safety officials.
The fiscal analysis on the proposed bill says "the debt service refinancing will still result in a net savings to the County for FY2022."
Council President Bob Meffley replied that he and Council Members Bill Coutz and Al Miller did support the COLA and bonuses, but were objecting to the fact that county government authorized it without council approval and did not adequately explain that the funding would come from savings of refinancing bonds.
“I believe that all Council Members are fully supportive of the 6% COLA and bonuses that had been authorized by the County Executive at the end of 2021. In fact, I lobbied for additional funding for law enforcement because of the lack of pay parity with other county and state agencies," Meffley said in a statement.
Meffley was absent from the council meeting where the vote took place due to illness, and noted that Miller did make a motion to table consideration of the resolution, but the motion wasn't recognized. Meffley called Hornberger's threat to "take back the COLA and bonuses... political rhetoric." He said he stands with Coutz and Miller in asking the administration to request funding for the COLA and bonsuses and identify "the legitimate source of funding."
Coutz sent a statement saying:
Earlier today, County Executive Hornberger used the County Government Facebook page to spread a blatant lie that Councilman Miller and myself voted to “defund the police.” The resolution we voted against was for a 6% raise to go to certain county employees. The County Executive refused to give us specific information about who was getting these raises and why the very specific select groups of employees were selected for the raise and not others, including our law enforcement deputies who are already being badly underpaid by the County Executive’s administration. I have a long record of strong support for our police and firmly believe that the County Executive needs to better fund them in her upcoming budget, the notion that I would ever vote to “defund the police” is ridiculous.
What was truly shameful about this whole incident, however, is the fact that the County Executive used taxpayer funded employees and the official County Government Facebook page to spread shameless misinformation about such an important issue, knowing it would get people upset and scared, so that she could further her own political ambitions in the county and state. I cannot think of any other government body, even in Washington DC, that allows blatant political propaganda to be misrepresented as the official stance of the government on government platforms. If County Executive Hornberger wants to make up lies and spread political misinformation about me and other Republican elected officials for her own benefit, she should do it on her own Facebook page.
I am grateful to all of the law enforcement agents who have reached out to me today to tell me that they know how ridiculous this is and share in my outrage over the County Executive’s spreading of misinformation.
I want to particularly thank Sheriff Scott Adams for publicly confirming my strong support for our local police, and I join in his calls for a fast resolution to this issue.