Midlevel managers and the Police Department's command staff are asking County Executive Robert R. Neall to give them furloughs instead ofsalary reductions that could lessen their retirements.
About 80 non-union managers, including civilians at the management level, met at the Western District station Tuesday to discuss offering Neall furloughs in lieu of the 3.6 percent wage concession he is asking of all county employees. The executive has said he needs the concessions to cover $7.8 million the county is losing in state revenue and avoid laying off 500 to 600 county employees.
"There really isn't a bluff going on here," said county police Deputy Chief Robert Beck, who supports the furloughs and signed a letter that was delivered to Neall yesterday.
Beck said he thinks the furloughs would help avoid the layoffs.
"We are willing to do our part and set an example for other groups," he said.
Last week, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 70, which represents all officers below the rank of sergeant, voted unanimously not to accept any wage concessions.
Dennis Howell, vice president of the union, said he doubted union members would accept furloughs now.
"When we had our meetingwith Mr. Neall and the chief was there, furloughs was one of the things that came up," he said. "We reported that back to the membership,and the response was no giveaways of any kind."
About 350 officers joined other county employees Monday night in a march to the Arundel Center to protest the cuts.
If Neall should come back with a smaller wage concession or a different plan, Howell said, union leaders would call for another vote.
But those officers who are not included in the union say the furloughs -- which they would take in lieu ofpaid holidays, such as Christmas -- are better than wage concessionsbecause they would have less of an effect on their salaries at retirement.
When an officer retires, he receives 50 percent of his salary. The salary figure at retirement is the average pay during the three highest years of the last five an officer has been with the department.
In the letter, the officers said the same amount of money could be raised through furloughs as concessions.
"We can protect that pension," Beck said. "If you have enough time left around here, you can make up for it."
Beck said he hopes the letter, signed by 28managers, and a decision to accept furloughs would have a "calming effect" on other groups that are considering not taking the pay cuts.
"Mr. Neall is in a very bad position, and he needs a countywide effort to get through these tough times," said Capt. Tom Shanahan, who heads the Eastern District. "It's not doing us any good to resist what he is trying to achieve."
Although she had not talked directly with Neall, Neall spokeswoman Louise Hayman she is sure he would be "delighted" by the offer.