81.11

OPINION NO. 81-11

An employee (the Employee) at a Community College (the College) has requested advice as to whether she must file a financial disclosure statement under section 4-102 of the Public Ethics Law (Article 40A, §4-102, Annotated Code of Maryland, the Ethics Law).

This Employee occupies a secretarial position at the College; the position is a College grade 16 and has a base pay of $13,254 and a maximum of $18,389. There are also three longevity increases available to an individual in this secretarial position after 10, 14 and 18 years of service. Salary levels at these time intervals rise to $19,266, $20,181, and $21,146 respectively. The Employee has served for over 18 years and has a salary of $21,146. Apart from the longevity increases the salary structure of this position is roughly equivalent to a State grade 13, which has a base of $13,534 and a maximum of $17,764.

Section 4-102 of the Ethics Law requires submission of financial disclosure statements by persons who are public officials. Section 1-201(z)(1) defines a public official to include persons serving in executive agencies if they are classified or compensated at State grade level 18 or above. Community colleges were requested to identify individuals serving in positions classified at State grade 18, in local graded positions with a base at or above the base of a State grade 18, or in positions carrying a slope or flat-rate salary equal to the base of a State grade 18. The Employee here was included apparently on the assumption that the addition of longevity increases to her graded salary makes it more like a flat rate salary, the amount of which exceeds that the base of a State grade 18.

However, we do not believe that these particular longevity increases negate the fact that the Employee's position remains essentially a College grade 16, roughly the equivalent of a State grade 13. This Employee appears to have moved upward to the top of the College grade assigned to her position, which is secretarial. Her job and responsibilities continue to reflect those of that position and grade; subsequent increments seem to be solely a reward for continued service. Under these circumstances we believe that the Employee should be treated as filling a local graded position, the base of which is below a State grade 18. We therefore conclude that the Employee is not a public official required to submit a financial disclosure statement.

Herbert J. Belgrad, Chairman
    Jervis S. Finney
    Reverend John Wesley Holland
    Barbara M. Steckel

Date: April 6, 1981