A Baltimore County councilman is asking the county executive to consider paying county workers who serve in the reserves the difference between their county salaries and their military pay if they are called to active duty for Operation Desert Shield.
Councilman Vincent Gardina, D-5th, said that 10 county employees in the reserves have been called to active duty so far and that another 150 could be called up.
Mr. Gardina said that the four police officers, four firefighters, one correctional officer and one part-time physician activated so far risk losing an average of about $10,000 per year because their military pay is lower than their county salaries.
He planned to introduce a resolution at Monday's County Council meeting asking County Executive Roger B. Hayden "to study the feasibility of offering compensation" equal to the difference between their civilian salaries and military pay.
Monday, Mr. Hayden called Mr. Gardina's proposal "an interesting thought" but said he would have to review it in greater detail before deciding whether to support it.
County personnel records show that of the 160 workers in the reserves and National Guard, 68 are police personnel, 31 are Fire Department personnel, 14 are public works employees and the remainder are spread among other departments.
"My feeling is that it would be a great thing to see. Pretty much everyone in the reserves has a family to support, so they're not in a position where they can stand a loss of income," said county police Detective Sgt. Rose Miller, first vice president of Baltimore County Lodge 4 of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Carroll McComas, the county personnel director, said the average county employee earns between $23,000 and $25,000.
Of the 10 employees activated, only three have been placed on leave without pay so far, he said. The other seven are still on the county payroll because they are using vacation or personal leave time, he said.
County employees get between 12 and 25 vacation days per year, and certain employees get up to six days' personal leave each year, he said.
But Mr. Gardina said his proposal would mean additional peace of mind to all 160 employees in the reserves.
"It doesn't cost the county any additional dollars from what was originally in the budget for salaries, and I think that it's the right thing morally for the county to do," he said.
Mr. Gardina said the compensation would take effect only after the employee's 15-day paid military leave, personal leave days and vacation days expired. It would remain in effect for one year from the date of the employee's military activation, he said.