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County Employees Could Get Lump Sum Instead of Pay Raise

County Executive proposes one-time $2,000 payment.

Instead of pay raises, most Montgomery County employees could receive a one-time $2,000 payment next year, according to a compensation and benefits package reviewed by a County Council committee Tuesday.

Analysts briefed the Government Operations Committee on County Executive Isiah Leggett’s recommendations.

The briefing was needed because of the uncertainty of the economic outlook, council staff director Stephen B. Farber said Tuesday.

According to county records, the lump-sum payouts to county government employees would cost $16.5 million, with $14.4 million coming from tax-supported funds. The payouts would include “longevity adjustments”—raises for certain employees who’ve worked for 20 years.

Roughly 500 employees would be eligible for such a raise, a cost of $1.3 million, according to county data.

Montgomery College and the Maryland-National Parks and Planning Commission would likely offer the lump sum instead of raises, though neither agency has finalized labor negotiations, Farber said Tuesday.

Montgomery County Public Schools—which also has not finalized its labor agreements—has discussed setting aside $35 million for step increases and raises for long-term employees, plus $12 million to offset the future cost of labor negotiations, Farber said.

Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission proposed 2 percent raises and merit increases of 3 to 5 percent, according to a county staff report.

The three-person council committee is expected to vote May 9 on employee benefits and compensation and will forward its recommendation to the full council.

The discussion Tuesday did not offer a clear sense of how the committee might vote.

Councilman Hans Riemer (D-At large) of Silver Spring, said he was concerned that surrounding counties were doing more to increase employee pay, making Montgomery County seem like an “outlier.” Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring asked Farber for “apples-to-apples” figures from surrounding counties and jurisdictions in Northern Virginia.

Councilwoman Nancy Navarro (D-Dist. 4) of Silver Spring, the committee’s chairwoman, said offering the lump sum instead of pay raises was not ideal, but it was “better than nothing” given the state of the economy and the state budget. It is uncertain whether counties will ultimately pick up teachers’ pension costs beginning in fiscal 2013. Shifting some of the costs to the counties is part of the so-called passed by the General Assembly last month. State legislators could return to Annapolis before the budget takes effect July 1 to revise the budget, which calls for $500 million in cuts from public schools, law enforcement and public services.

“I’m not uncomfortable with this particular proposal given the fact that hopefully we’ll start seeing a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel, and we’ll be able to build from there,” Navarro said. “But what has happened in Annapolis has thrown us a major question mark. We have to address that.”

 

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