Montgomery County Councilman Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg) today came out strongly against a County Executive Isiah Leggett-brokered deal that would give most of the 5,000 members of the county’s employee union a pay raise of 13.5 percent over the next two years.
Members of the county’s general employee union (MCGEO) haven’t seen a pay raise in four years.
Andrews, who has announced he will run for county executive in 2014, said those 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,” Andrews said in a prepared statement. “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.”
The county faces a roughly $135 million budget shortfall for fiscal year 2014. Some, including Andrews, have criticized Montgomery County Public Schools for proposing a budget that is $10 million more than what the state’s recently strengthened maintenance of effort laws require.
Budget analysts have said funding the schools at the maintenance of effort level could already mean a five percent cut in other county services.
The agreement between Leggett and MCGEO includes 3.5 percent increment increases and 3.25 percent cost of living increases for county employees in fiscal years 2014 and 2015. Andrews said the cost of the contract could exceed $40 million over three years.
Andrews said he will vote against the contract and lobby his Council colleagues to vote against it unless the Council reduces the pay increases.