Cecil County Commissioner Michael Dunn Gets Salary Cut, Due to Unpaid Debt
Cecil County Commissioner Michael Dunnâ€™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 â€śunemployed,â€ť 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 â€śactiveâ€ť 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 Dunnâ€™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 â€śworkforce housing.â€ť
Dunnâ€™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:
Dunnâ€™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 â€śfiscal responsibilityâ€ť 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, â€śI will do my best to reduce spending at the county levelâ€¦â€ť
But Dunn apparently did not â€śdo my best to reduce spendingâ€ť at the personal level. Court records show that he was in debt to â€śLVNV Funding, LLCâ€ť 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 Timesâ€™ questions, after a candidatesâ€™ 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 â€śworkforce housingâ€ť designed to assist lower income working families find affordable housing.
The apartments, which include 1, 2 and 3-bedroom units, have rents based upon tenantsâ€™ 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.