Register of Wills: The Easiest Job in Government?

A reader makes the case that in Maryland registers of wills (an elected office that also exists in Delaware and Pennsylvania) are highly paid with few responsibilities. Would anyone notice if the job ceased to exist?
by | August 16, 2010

At the risk of having to rename this blog, "Governing Politics, Feral Hogs and Registers of Wills," I received an interesting comment on my post from last week about registers of wills. Here it is:

Just wanted to comment on your register of wills article and how that race is shaping up here in one Western MD county. After nearly two decades in the position our long time register of wills who has worked for the office for nearly 3 decades is now retiring. A newcomer has filed for one party and a current employee from the other party. The biggest issue in your article however that I think was missed is the salary for this position in MD counties. They are broken into 3 groups, small, medium, and large, with the medium in our County compensated at 94,000 per year, which is up from 68,000 just several year ago and slightly less than what our State legislature proposed of 117,000 in a recent bill.

That 94,000 is the largest salary of any county elected official in ours and most counties, including State’s Attorney and sheriff, and rivals the salary of our Superintendent and County Administrator. The position requires no educational background, hours of operation, or any other criteria for carrying out the role and in most counties is a position held by a person for as long as they want it for exactly the reason you point out…no one knows what it is for really, but since there are usually no complaints there is no rush to change the incumbent.

By my estimation this salary cost across just the State of MD alone is more than 2.5 million per year, for an operation that is clearly being carried out on a daily basis by an office full of staff in each county and could thus be tucked into another existing part of the judicial system and the position voided altogether.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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