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Cecil County Commissioner Michael Dunn Gets Salary Cut, Due to Unpaid Debt

July 15, 2011
By Nancy Schwerzler

Cecil County Commissioner Michael Dunn’s next county paycheck will be a bit smaller, due to a debt garnishee against his salary filed in Cecil County District Court. The Rising Sun-area commissioner (R-3) previously had a judgment filed against him and a garnishment of his state salary and bank account for unpaid debt and fees, totaling over $23,000, when he was employed by Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36).

Court files show the state notified the court in January, 2011 that Dunn was “unemployed,” and a pre-existing garnishee could not continue to be deducted from his state salary. Dunn left the state payroll in December, 2010 when he was sworn in as a Cecil County Commissioner.

But his creditors caught up with him on 6/30/11, with documents filed in court to attach his county commissioner salary for unpaid debts, under a still “active” court judgment that was initially rendered against Dunn in 2008.

Cecil County Human Resources Director Donna Nichols, responding to an inquiry from Cecil Times based on the court records, confirmed that her office received the garnishee notice from the court on Friday. County employees, who are paid twice a month, received paychecks on Friday, so the garnishee against Dunn’s county salary will not be deducted until his next paycheck in two weeks.

County Commissioners are considered to be part-time county employees and are paid $30,000 a year. They are also entitled to health benefits and participation in a state-operated defined benefit pension program. Commissioners are also allowed to participate in a tax-deferred supplemental retirement program but do not receive a county government-provided match of their contributions to that account, according to Nichols.

In addition, a Rising Sun house where Dunn lived with relatives was foreclosed upon while he was a candidate and court records now list a Maple Heights Court address for Dunn. The Maple Heights apartment complex in Rising Sun is a state and federally subsidized housing project, with income limits for residents under programs designed to assist lower-income “workforce housing.”

Dunn’s personal financial problems were known in county political circles when he was a long-shot candidate for Commissioner in 2010. But his opponents, first in the Republican primary and then in the general election, ran low-budget campaigns to promote their own candidacies and did not circulate attack ads or flyers against Dunn to question his ability to address county finances when he had personal financial problems of his own.

But Dunn did a last -minute attack flyer against his general election opponent, Brian Lockhart, the incumbent Democrat in the Rising Sun district who was also the President of the County Commissioners board. Lockhart was defeated by Dunn in November.

[UPDATE: Members of the Cecil County Patriots group, which sponsored candidate forums last year, have provided a link to an audio interview with Dunn, in which he claimed last fall that it was “untrue” that he had a wage garnishee filed against him for unpaid debts. In fact, court records show the notice of garnishee had been filed a year earlier. Here is the link provided to the audio interview with Dunn last fall:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99nHRpUaQ_w&feature=youtu.be

Dunn’s candidacy was bolstered by financial contributions from a network of political clubs, candidate slates, and a political action committee tied to his former boss, Smigiel, and Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-36).

Dunn ran on a platform of “fiscal responsibility” and earlier this year put his name on a budget-cutting proposal with Commissioners President James Mullin (R-1) that sought to slash $10 million from the county budget by targeting education and public safety, saying, “I will do my best to reduce spending at the county level…”

But Dunn apparently did not “do my best to reduce spending” at the personal level. Court records show that he was in debt to “LVNV Funding, LLC” of Greenville, S.C., for $17,895, plus more than $2,500 in interest costs and another $2,684 in attorney fees at the time the initial judgment was issued against him in 2008.

Meanwhile, the court documents confirm that Dunn has changed his residence from a Ryan Drive address he used when he first filed to run for Commissioner to a Maple Heights Court address in Rising Sun. The Ryan residence, which was previously owned by relatives, was foreclosed upon during the campaign season, according to state property and court records. Dunn refused to answer Cecil Times’ questions, after a candidates’ forum last fall, about where he was actually living prior to the election.

The Maple Heights apartment complex received multiple government subsidies from federal, state and county levels of government, documents show. The developers of the apartments, Delaware Valley Development Co. of Hockessin DE, describe the project on their website as “workforce housing” designed to assist lower income working families find affordable housing.

The apartments, which include 1, 2 and 3-bedroom units, have rents based upon tenants’ income. The apartments received Maryland state Rental Housing Assistance subsidies, federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit subsidies, and the Cecil County government waived building permit and occupancy permit fees to subsidize the project, according to state and county records.

Cecil Times contacted Dunn at his County Commissioner office, where he was not present, and left a message asking him for comment on his financial issues. We will update this report upon his response.

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12 Responses to Cecil County Commissioner Michael Dunn Gets Salary Cut, Due to Unpaid Debt

  1. Kelly on July 15, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Really, are you kidding me! And this is one of the commissioners running our county? Come on voters, we have to do our research and do better than this next time! Better yet, he needs to leave office now!

    • Hidlins on July 16, 2011 at 1:08 pm

      How do we get started…I’ll help! As far as I know, we have to bite our lip until his term is up, and that’s a LONG time!

  2. Joe on July 16, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Would be interested in knowing how many people are allowed to live in the apartment, based on income of all residents, because the last I heard Mommy and Daddy give that as their address, also.

  3. Jackie on July 20, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Michael Dunn claimed during an audiotaped interview during his campaign for Cecil County Commissioner which he agreed to in October, 2010, that reports of his wages being garnisheed for unpaid debts were “completely untrue.” Here is the audio: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99nHRpUaQ_w&feature=youtu.be

  4. Kathio on July 20, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    Is there a recall procedure for commissioner? If not, there definitely should be! Dunn is obviously NOT qualified to vote on issues facing Cecil County!

  5. Al Reasin on July 22, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    kathio: Unfortunately there is no recall provision in the county, Maryland or federal governments. The county’s future charter government also will not allow recall but it has a provision to amend it.

  6. 1Citizen on July 24, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    A petition should be drawn up demanding he resign for not being forthcoming about residency when he filed for Commissioner, and for hypocrisy in cutting funding for various programs, especially for lower-income people, while living in tax-subsidized housing himself.

  7. TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT on July 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    What an afront to the county taxpayers. Lies, more lies, backdoor deals and cover-ups and now subsidized housing – do they really think we are that stupid. Thanks Cecil Times, you seem to be the only one willing to print what we really need to know.

  8. Arley Meadows on July 29, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Mr. Dunn also told other blatant lies in order to get votes. On his website he stated “I pledge to never vote to raise taxes on the citizens of Cecil County.” My property taxes increased by almost 11% this year, while the market value of my home fell. Mr. Dunn promised me in an email that he would keep his campaign promise but then he voted for the 2012 budget. It is obvious that we were snookered and that Mr. Dunn is not an honorable man.

  9. Too Proud for government handouts on August 3, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Sounds like we have got a real winner (not) of a commissioner! I am sorry to say we must live in close proximity to one another.

    Worse yet that he would now use dirty, underhanded politics to go after others that work for the county.
    Sounds like a guy who has no fiscal abilities in his own home, and county government. Time for you to do the honorable thing for once Mr. Dunn. Go out and find a real job, and resign your position with the county. We don’t need those that attempt to advance personal agendas at the harm of others.

  10. welfare king on August 3, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    So Mike Dunn, who claims to be a Republican “fiscal conservative team” guy, who is now revealed to be a male welfare queen! How outrageous is this!

  11. Sick and Tired of BS on September 15, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Why has this important news not been published in the Cecil Whig or the Cecil Guardian? The citizens of Cecil County need to be aware of this! Dunn is a disgrace.

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