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 council committee Tuesday.
Analysts briefed the Government Operations Committee on County Executive Isiah Leggett’s recommendations, needed because the economic outlook was “uncertain,” 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 — $14.4 million coming from tax-supported funds — and would include “longevity adjustments” or raises for certain employees who’ve worked for 20 years, according to county records.
Roughly 500 employees would be eligible for such a raise, a cost of $1.3 million, county data show.
Though neither agency had finalized labor negotiations, Montgomery College and the Maryland-National Parks and Planning Commission would likely offer the lump sum instead of raises, Farber said Tuesday.
Montgomery County Public Schools — which also had not finalized its labor agreements — had 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 county records.
The three-person committee is expected to vote May 9 on employee benefits and compensation and will forward its recommendation to the County Council.
The discussion Tuesday did not offer a clear sense of how the committee might vote.
Councilman Hans Riemer, D-At Large, 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, asked Farber for “apples-to-apples” figures from surrounding counties and jurisdictions in Northern Virginia.
Councilwoman Nancy Navarro, 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 not knowing whether the county would wind up picking up teachers’ pension costs — part of the so-called doomsday budget that resulted from the General Assembly’s unfinished business.
“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.”