Hayden delays proposals to privatize mental health centers, change pay grades

June 16, 1993|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

The Hayden administration has backed away from a proposal to award operation of two county-run mental health centers to two area hospitals.

That proposal, along with one shifting pay grades and job classifications, was scheduled to come before the County Council this month. The proposed personnel change has some employees worried that future pay raises may be blocked if their jobs are downgraded.

The withdrawal of both measures is temporary, according to County Executive Roger B. Hayden and his administrative officer, Merreen E. Kelly.

Administration plans to award contracts for the mental health centers without competitive bidding sparked protests from Dr. Sheldon Glass, a private psychiatrist who wants his company, Glass Mental Health Centers Inc. of Pikesville, to have a chance to bid on the work.

Dr. Margaret L. Sherrard, the county's health director, said she wants the clinics converted to private operation to allow quicker hiring of psychiatric staff.

The original plan was to award the $650,000-a-year northwest center program, located in the county family services building in the 8700 block of Liberty Road, to the Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital in Towson. The other program, already located next to Franklin Square Hospital, would have been given to that hospital to operate.

Dr. Glass has written Mr. Hayden and Council Chairman Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-3rd, claiming he can operate the northwest center cheaper and better than Sheppard Pratt. He did not cite a figure. Dr. Glass will get a chance to make his case for competitive bidding next week in a meeting with Mr. Kelly.

The personnel bill represents a re-evaluation of the worth of various county government jobs that began in June 1990.

Personnel director Richard N. Holloway said 391 county workers would see their jobs upgraded, while 62 would see their jobs downgraded. No current employees would suffer a pay reduction, though some would lose future pay increases. The cost of the increases is $252,863 through the first year.

The bill was pulled because "employees have been through so much," said Mr. Kelly.

County workers have not had a general pay raise in three years and had furloughs last year. In February, 290 county workers were laid off.

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