Don't look for Howard teachers to give back 6% raise Board wants a give-back, based on the new budget.

May 24, 1991|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Evening Sun Staff

Don't expect Howard County teachers to sign an agreement that will wipe out a negotiated 6 percent pay raise in their contract.

Leaders of the Howard County Education Association are disturbed that the county's 1992 operating budget adopted by the County Council yesterday did not restore money for raises that County Executive Charles I. Ecker eliminated.

The $270.3 million budget adopted by the council will raise property taxes 14 cents to $2.59 per $100 of assessed valuation.

The budget is 5.6 percent less than the spending plan for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and it contains $1.9 million less for public schools than the county now provides.

Although the council restored $1.1 million to public schools by borrowing from other county accounts, it did not add enough to cover the $8.9 million costs of teachers' raises.

The Board of Education plans to invite the HCEA, the teachers' collective bargaining unit, to a renegotiation session sometime next month. Board members will ask teachers to formally give back their raises.

How likely is that to happen? "Do you really think we're going to be a party to that?" James Swab, HCEA president asked rhetorically.

Board member Dana F. Hanna said the union would hurt itself by failing to appear at a new bargaining session. Without the union's signature on a revised agreement, the board will impose a new contract, he said.

"Negotiations with one side are kind of strange," Hanna said, adding that the board would be forced to impose a new contract on the union if HCEA does not participate in new bargaining. "We won't have a choice."

The HCEA is urging teachers and support personnel not to volunteer for activities outside the classroom next year to show their frustration over the decision by Ecker to withhold the pay raises and the council's refusal to restore them. State law prevents teachers from going on strike.

Swab said the union would not pressure teachers into withdrawing from outside activities. He said the union has asked faculties at each school to reach a consensus on whether they should volunteer. He said education would not suffer.

"The academic program will not be affected," Swab said. "Teachers will do everything except for all the extras we have for so long given."

Teachers were not the only county employees affected by the budget. Ecker last month laid off 40 county government workers, eliminated 119 vacant positions and froze pay raises.

Residents also will feel the pinch. The property tax increase means that a property owner with a $150,000 home who now pays $1,502 in taxes will pay an additional $165, or $1,667, next year. Taxes on a $200,000 home will rise by $220, from $2,002 to 2,222.

A number of business and residential fees will rise. They include: recordation taxes, paid when property is sold, from $2.20 for each $500 of property value to $2.50; landfill fees, from $45 to 50 a ton of refuse; water-use charges, from 57 cents to 66 cents for each 100 cubic feet; sewer costs, from $1.12 to $1.16 for each 100 cubic feet; and the monthly 911 telephone surcharge, from 28 cents to 50 cents.

"I consider this budget a share-the-pain budget," Councilman Darrel Drown said before the council voted unanimously to adopt the spending plan.

The council also approved a $102 million capital budget that is 45 percent less than the current one for improvements to the county's infrastructure and facilities.

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