Council Informally Nixes Firefighter Overtime Pay

May 31, 1991|By Samuel Goldreich | Samuel Goldreich,Staff writer

In unofficial straw votes Wednesday, the County Council voted to deny firefighters $1 million in overtime and endorse redistricting schools to save at least $50 million in construction costs.

Taxpayers will learn today whether the council really meant it, as it meets to adopt a fiscal 1992 budget.

Both non-binding votes followed the advice of Council Auditor Joseph Novotny, who recommended $6.1 million in cuts to County ExecutiveRobert R. Neall's proposed $616.6 million operating budget.

Several council members said they would support $1 million in overtime tocut the firefighters' work week from 52 to 50 hours if Neall's bill to delay a $150,000 increase in pension payments for volunteer firefighters is defeated.

Neall asked the county's six unions to extend their contracts until next year, when the economy might make a pay raise possible. Only the detention center union refused.

The school redistricting proposal -- approved unanimously in the unofficial vote-- was offered as a way to use excess class space instead of spending $50 to $100 million in planned school construction and expansion over the next six years.

Its adoption tomorrow depends on whether the council wants to force the Board of Education to launch a war over redistricting.

"The Board of Education is not a political body. It's supposed to do what's best for thecounty," said Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis. "We're the ones who will take the heat for it."

The council overrode almost half of Novotny's operating budget cuts Wednesday. It also scaled back the auditor's plan to cut more than$18 million from Neall's $95.6 million capital budget.

During a budget session that ran past midnight Wednesday, the council unanimously approved spending the money as part of a settlement of the contract impasse between the Neall administration and the detention center union.

Neall will offer his own supplemental budget today. It willinclude at least $200,000 to pay detention center guards for the 103additional hours added unilaterally to their yearly schedule.

Thecouncil supported a binding agreement that yielded to several key union demands, including an advisory arbitration process in labor disputes and allowing the union to pursue class-action grievances.

But the council sided with the administration on the central issue by notagreeing to restore the guards' original schedule, which allows morefrequent weekends off.

The schedule was imposed in January 1990 and is the subject of a Circuit Court suit filed by the union.

Assistant personnel officer Michael Milanowski insisted that the county has the right to change the schedule and would fight the union's demand that guards be given back pay of about $300,000 for the additional hours.

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