A policy of severance pay in Baltimore County.

The Baltimore County government has gained a reputation as being the place where openness and transparency in government have gone to die. The county’s so-called “Executive Benefit Policy” and how it feathers the nests of high-ranking county officials already eligible for lucrative county pensions is another example of what happens when government is allowed to operate out of public view.

Fred Homan is the Baltimore County administrative officer, the second-in-command to County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. Mr. Homan has served in that position since 2007 and has been a Baltimore County employee since 1978. He is in his mid-60s and eligible to retire. If he retires next year when County Executive Kamenetz leaves office, Mr. Homan will receive an annual pension from Baltimore County that I estimate to be about the same amount as his current salary of $225,000. His pension, extraordinarily generous as it will be, is at least a matter of duly-enacted county law.

Here’s the issue: When he retires, Mr. Homan also will be in line to ive “severance pay” in the amount of $75,000 from the county, before accounting for the 7 percent raise he’s slated to receive in Mr. Kamenetz’s new budget proposal. If you are looking for the authority to pay appointed officials severance pay in addition to their pension benefits, don’t look for it in the county charter or code. Look for it in a two-page memorandum titled “Executive Benefit Policy, Appointed Employees” dated January 7, 2015. It states that eligible appointed employees — the county administrative officer is listed first — with up to 20 years service may receive 80 days severance, up to 30 years service nets 100 days, and 30-plus, as in Mr. Homan’s case, brings in 120 days severance pay.

Who signed the memorandum? Mr. Homan.

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