No cost-of-living raises seen for county workers

April 09, 1993|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

Baltimore County employees weren't expecting any cost-of-living pay raises again this summer -- and they were right.

County executive Roger B. Hayden confirmed yesterday that there will be no general pay increase in the budget he is to present next week to the county council for the third year in a row.

"There won't be a COLA [cost-of-living adjustment] this year," Mr. Hayden said yesterday.

He had hinted as much last week, when he said that county teachers will not get a $1,400 across-the-board increase approved by the school board.

County employees weren't expecting much. In February, Mr. Hayden laid off more than 300 employees, eliminated 566 county positions, and closed nine libraries and four senior centers to deal with the effects of two years of state aid reductions and revenue losses brought on by the recession.

Last year, county workers were furloughed for five days without pay.

Even so, the leader of the county's blue-collar union was critical.

"It's terrible," said Edward M. Pedrick Jr., president of Local 921 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers.

Mr. Pedrick noted that Harford County workers are due for a 3 percent pay increase in July, and that Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke has said he wants to give city workers a 2 percent raise.

"[Baltimore] County employees have been going backward," Mr. Pedrick said.

Morris W. Barrett III, president of the white-collar classified employees association, said he, too, didn't expect a raise given recent events but was disappointed nevertheless.

"It's been so long," he said, since the last raise.

Susan Orthaus, president of the Professional Staff Nurses Association, said she too is disappointed. "It's a shame," she said, "because county employees have really done their part."

The nurses have been working for years to get parity in pay for elementary school nurses, who work for the county health department now get 25 percent less secondary school nurses, who work for the school board. Ms. Orthaus said she hopes to achieve that goal this year.

Mr. Hayden has continued giving the county's 19,000 workers longevity pay increases, but not general raises. Longevity increases stop after five years of service.

Most county workers last got a general pay increase on January 1, 1991, when they got a 4 percent increase authorized by former county executive Dennis F. Rasmussen.

Although Mr. Hayden would not reveal any details of his future budget, no general tax increases are expected.

Several county council members already have served notice that they will not approve property or income tax increases for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The county last year raised its local income tax rate from 50 to 55 percent of the state income tax.

Mr. Hayden will submit his budget April 15, after which the County Council has until June 1 to make further cuts and set a new tax rate.

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