Gray Seeks To Spread The Wealth

Plan Offers Smaller Raises But Includes More Workers

April 29, 1992|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff writer

County Councilman C. Vernon Gray, D-3rd, presented the council with proposal Monday that would give 312 county employees smaller raises in order to provide salary increases to 64 others who would not otherwise get a raise.

If the proposal is adopted by the council, virtually all of the county's 1,651 non-school system employees will receive a raise of some kind in fiscal 1993. Employees suffered a 2 percentdecrease in pay in fiscal 1992 because of a 5-day unpaid furlough.

Gray's proposal would cover all but about six employees. The proposal may be adjusted further to ensure that all employees receive a raise of some sort.

"I like the idea of giving everybody something," Councilwoman Shane Pendergrass, D-1st, told Gray at a council work session Monday night.

Other council members tended to agree. The question they seek to resolve now is how to provide raises in such a way that will be fair to everyone without adding to the budget.

With the exception of the education part of the budget, the council can only accept or cut the dollar amount the county executive recommends.The council can restore money cut from the Board of Education request.

The proposal County Executive Charles I. Ecker sent the councillast week calls for a 2.5 percent raise for employees who are not yet paid top scale and whose work is rated satisfactory by their supervisors. The raises would take effect on the anniversary of each worker's employment.

Ecker also proposed restoring bonuses that until fiscal 1992 were given to workers who have been with the county 12 or more years -- $1,000 to employees with 12 to 15 years of service, $2,000 to those with 16 or more.

Sixty-four employees were caught in the middle. They were at the top of their grade and were ineligible for the 2.5 percent raise, and they had been with the county less than 12 years and were ineligible for the bonus.

Gray's proposal would give $1,000 raises to most of the 64 excluded under the Ecker plan. To accomplish this, he would change the way bonuses are provided. He would give them only to employees who have been paid top scale a year or more and are ineligible for a 2.5 percent raise.

Under the planEcker seeks to restore, 312 employees would be eligible for both a bonus and a 2.5 percent raise.

Gray would amend the law to cut the $2,000 bonuses to $1,500 in fiscal 1993, and to $1,000 in fiscal 1994. He said his proposal would save $80,000 in fiscal 1993 and $235,000in fiscal 1994. The fiscal year begins July 1.

Al White, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employeeslocal representing 300 blue-collar workers in the Public Works and Parks departments, called Gray's proposal "interesting -- worth takinga look at."

White is also president of AFSCME Council 67, which oversees 44 union locals in the state, including the one representing correctional officers at the jail.

He said that the best thing about the Gray proposal is that it benefits nearly every employee. "We're glad to see that everybody gets something," White said.

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