may not get pay raises
Council has been asked to freeze the salaries of 55 executive
branch employees directly appointed by County Executive
Christopher Coons as part of the
effort to hold the line on county government spending to ward off a budget crisis.
statement issued by Coons's office on Jan. 19 said the move
would save approximately $250,000 a year. The freeze is to last
through the expiration of the current pay plan in April, 2008.
statement said that the affected employees were due to receive
3.1% cost-of-living increases this year. They also gat automatic
5% annual merit raises on the anniversary of their hiring if
they receive satisfactory performance reviews.
"Freezing the salaries of appointed employees further cuts our
costs without cutting programs or direct services for
residents," Coons said in the statement.
are so-called political appointees in a wide range of positions
from general managers through administrative support people. Not
affected are about 175 other non-union employees hired through
the county’s civil service merit system.
salary, as well as those of other elected officials, are
governed by state law. Spokeswoman Christy Gleason said it is
his intention to return the amount of any raise he receives to
the county treasury.
the employees' pay plan was adopted by ordinance, the
proposed freeze can be imposed only by an ordinance approved by
a majority of the 13-member Council, Gleason said.
added that it will be handled as a
regular legislation under the sponsorship of Council
president Paul Clark and not as an emergency measure. That
means it will likely be introduced at Council's next session on
Jan. 23 and voted upon three weeks later. The gap between
meetings is an extra week because there are five Tuesdays in
said Council also will be asked to impose the freeze on its
pay scales provide for up to 10 annual increases. Not everyone
starts on the bottom rung of the level at which his or her job
is classified, however. Someone hired at the fourth step, for
instance, would automatically receive raises upon completing
each of the first six years of service. Coons has been in office
since January, 2005.
85% of the 1,556 full-time county employees are
covered by negotiated union contracts and their pay and benefits
are locked in for the duration of the contracts. The contract
with one union, representing just under 300 Department of
Community Services workers, expires this spring; the rest run
out in April, 2008.
said that Coons has had conversations with the unions' leaders
about the county's financial situation but, at this point, there
has been no request for them to agree to negotiate changes in
not a step taken lightly. However, we must make sacrifices as we
work to change the financial path of our county," Coons said in
forward to working together with Council as we make tough
choices about spending and revenues that protect our financial
future while putting the needs of residents first."
pay and benefits and how they compare with comparable positions
in other governments and the private sector currently are
subjects of a consultant study. The study was commissioned by
the Financial Future Taskforce looking into possible short-term
and structural changes in county revenue and spending. Personnel
costs account for about 75% of the county budget. Results of
the study are scheduled to be made public soon.
already has imposed several costs-cutting measures involving
personnel. Vacant positions other than those directly connected
to public safety are not being filled; except for good cause,
managers are required to wait until severance packages are paid
before hiring replacements for anyone who resigns or retires;
and nonessential overtime has been eliminated.
freeze was a first step; this is the second step," Gleason said.
"It will not be the last step we will take."
also were directed last November to cut their present budgets,
exclusive of personnel costs, by 10%, which is roughly equivalent
to an across-the-board 3% reduction in the county budget. They
also were told to request no more than 98% of their current
budgets for the coming fiscal year.
will submit his proposed fiscal 2008 budget to Council in March.
Council is required to adopt the budget before June 1.