Divided Personnel Board Still Backs 3 Bills On Eliminating Pay Increases

March 06, 1991|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff writer

The county personnel board said Monday that it would not renege on its endorsement of three bills that would allow the administration to eliminate employee raises in the coming fiscal year.

Board member Sandra Jaffe asked for the reversal Monday night after the board agreed to an administration bill that would permit the county to furloughemployees.

Jaffe said she feels "extremely strongly" that if the administration lays off 11 percent of its work force and reduces the hours of those who remain, there must be "a reward," namely merit raises must beprovided surviving employees "for a job well done."

"Otherwise, I'm afraid we're creating a monster," Jaffe said.

Police Officer Dennis W. Vittetoe, the only county employee on the five-member board, supported Jaffe. Other board members did not.

Although "the picture is very dismal," the board built some checks and balances into theno-raise legislative package, said board member Mimi O'Donnell. "I don't think changing our position is the answer."

Board chairman Michael P. Hickey suggested Jaffe and Vittetoe share their views in a special report to the council.

The furlough bill the Ecker administration sent to the council Monday night would let department heads furlough employees as needed. The bill specifies that furloughs could apply only to a "class" of workers. If one worker in a classification were furloughed, all workers in that classification would be furloughed.

After endorsing the furlough bill, the board attached to it the same restrictions it suggested last month when it agreed to supportfor one year only the administration's request for permission to eliminate merit, longevity and cost-of-living raises.

The board wantsthe administration to supply it with quarterly financial reports, and it wants County Executive Charles I. Ecker to come before it in a public hearing prior to laying off any employees.

The board cannot compel action by either the executive or the County Council, it can only make suggestions.

Following the board hearings last month, Ecker announced he will have to lay off 200 of the county's 1,800 employees and leave another 110 vacancies un- filled.

According to a personnel department document, the county hired "a record low" 24 employees in the last quarter of the year who were either "emergency personnel or considered vital" to the operation of a department.

Ecker has not told the board yet whether he intends to provide it with quarterly reports or appear before it in a public meeting prior to laying off employees. The council's public hearing on the furlough bill and the three no-raise bills will be 5 p.m. March 19.

In an unrelated action, the personnel board agreed to review an administration bill that would change employee appeals procedures.

The bill, which willbe sent to the council for action in April, would separate appeals regarding demotions and suspensions from appeals for less-serious matters.

"Type A" appeals for demotions and suspensions would follow the same route to the personnel board that they always have, while "Type B" appeals would go first to the person who made the decision, then to the department head, then to the personnel officer, and then to the personnel board, if necessary.

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