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Speak Out: Councilman Andrews Opposes Leggett’s Proposed Pay Raises for County Workers

Montgomery County Councilman Phil Andrews says Leggett’s pay raise proposal is 'excessive, unsustainable and irresponsible.’ Do you agree?

Montgomery County Councilman Phil Andrews is calling the pay raise agreement between County Executive Isiah Leggett and the Municipal and County Government Employees Organization (MCGEO) “excessive, unsustainable and irresponsible.”

Andrews, D-Gaithersburg, who is planning to run for county executive, released a statement Friday.

At issue is an agreement for fiscal 2014 and 2015 that includes provisions for 3.5 percent increment increases and 3.25 percent COLAs for most county government employees, according to information provided by a County Council spokesman.

Patrick Lacefield, the county executive’s spokesman, told The Gazette that employees could not receive a step and a longevity increases but some county workers could receive either of those plus a cost of living adjustment.

Andrews said such a raise would cost the county more than $40 million over the next three years and was more than what federal and private-sector workers could expect.

County workers haven't had a raise in years.

Andrews said in his statement that county workers deserved a raise, “but one that is sustainable for taxpayers, that does not create unrealistic expectations and that does not encourage other public employee unions, whose agreements also are funded by county taxpayers, to ask for as much.”

Speak out: Do you agree with Andrews that Leggett’s proposed pay raise is too much? Or do you think Leggett’s proposition is fair? Please post your comments below the story.

Andrews’s full statement:

The agreement between County Executive Isiah Leggett and the County general employees union (MCGEO) for pay increases that total 13.5 percent for most employees over the next two years is excessive, unsustainable and irresponsible. The cost of this labor contract, which could exceed $40 million over three years, is larger than the County can afford, and will likely substantially exceed pay increases that federal employees and private sector employees will see in the near future. (President Obama recently proposed a 1 percent cost-of-living-adjustment for federal employees for next year.)

County employees deserve a pay raise after several difficult years, but one that is sustainable for taxpayers, that does not create unrealistic expectations and that does not encourage other public employee unions, whose agreements also are funded by County taxpayers, to ask for as much.

At a time when the County Executive has asked agency and department heads to prepare for another austere year, his lack of any explanation of how he would pay for these sizeable pay increases is striking. If his earlier indications about the budget are true, the money to pay for these pay increases will directly compete with funding for important services.

County Executive Leggett is repeating the mistakes of the recent past by again agreeing to a labor contract that will, if approved by the County Council, hamstring the County’s fiscal future. In spring 2008, for example, on the cusp of the severe recession, County Executive Leggett agreed to a three-year labor contract with career firefighters that called for similar increases in the first two years to the pay increases just announced, and a 10.5 percent increase for most career firefighters in the third year. The cost-of-living increase in year two of that contract had to be cancelled and the entire 10.5 percent pay increase in year three had to be eliminated.

I was the only Councilmember who voted against that 2008 contract (as well as the two other County labor contracts that year, and the 2005 labor contract negotiated by then County Executive Douglas Duncan that provided full retirement benefits for firefighters who retire after only 20 years). I will vote against this contract as well, and will urge my Council colleagues to do the same, unless the Council reduces the pay increases to a sustainable level.

Jewel Barlow February 23, 2013 at 12:12 PM
I agree with Henry Klein and with Robin Ficker's comment that follows as well. There should not be any public employee raises until the economy is healthy enough for unemployment to go below 6% for the entire state.
STEVEN YOUNG March 09, 2013 at 11:23 PM
Steve a Montgomery Employee. I had to go without a raise for four years while watching my taxes go up each year. Not only without a raise , I also had to pay more for my families health insurance. I LIKE TO KNOW HOW Mr. Andrews take a pay cut and less health insurance and hear what he has to say on that point. Has any of you sacrifice four years . I PRETTY SURE EVERYONE OF YOU GOT YOUR COLAS!!!!!!! REMEMBER COUNTY EMPLOYEES LIVE IN THE COUNTY TOO AND WE ARE PAYING FOR OUR SALARY OUT OF OUR TAXES. HOW MANY OF YOU IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR CAN SAY THAT. IT FUNNY HOW THE COUNTY EMPLOYEE IS THE SCAPEGOAT WHILE EVERYONE ELSE DOESN'T HAVE TO SACRAFICE!!!!!!!
bill marshall March 15, 2013 at 08:18 PM
When employees actually leave instead of just bellyache then you know they need a raise. None of them can get more in the private sector and they know it. If they want to quit go ahead there are probably 20 qualified people for every job waiting in the wings. If you want to do a real evaluation to test pay levels simply run ads for the jobs and examine the resumes. If you get no takers you are paying too low. If you get good resumes than you are either okay or too high. If they really want to increase efficency then install web cams so the taxpayers can see how much they strand around and complain.
Mo April 02, 2013 at 04:32 PM
Everything has gone up, but my paycheck. County employees have not received COLAs or increments in years. And with no pay increase, we have actually had decreases because of increased pay ratio for insurance, retirement, etc. Years ago, we voluntarily forfeited a contracted COLA because of budget issues. Don't forget that! And we were furloughed. There is a lot of waste in government. Take a look a the millions spent on Council and CE grants. These are non-profits who submit an application saying what they will do with the money. The County has not advertised for these services. Stop wasting all this money.
Michael Smith April 05, 2013 at 12:34 PM
Yes, because no private sector people have had to suffer in a down economy. Are you serious? As a small business owner I've made less over the last four years than someone working at Mcdonalds would make. I don't have insurance, I don't have a pension, I don't have a safety net, all because of paying for YOUR salary. Government employees forget who their bosses REALLY are, they waste overtime pay, sit around on government time slacking off, and then enjoy the perks that don't exist in the private sector. Steven Young, very simply, WHAT is your pay? Because I guarantee you it's more than you would be making in the private sector for the same amount of work and the benefits would be worse. Remember who pays your salary and show some damn respect, you're not the only one that's had to suffer over the last four years. As a business owner I've taken less pay than my employees to avoid having to lay anyone off while my debt has mounted incredibly. Hell yesterday we found out we're paying an extra $1,000 to the state A MONTH for our $8,000 a month commercial real estate lease due to an appraisal that increased our taxes by $1,000! The state is taking an extra $12,000 a year from us as one independent small business when I'm taking less than $36,000 a year in living money. When the state is taking 33% of my income on top of what they already take, my sympathy for government people asking for huge pay raises goes down drastically.

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