Council OKs moves to reduce work force County hopes 50 will take early-retirement package

February 06, 1996|By Dan Morse | Dan Morse,SUN STAFF

In moves designed to shrink the county government work force, the Howard County Council approved last night an early-retirement package and started work on a transfer policy that could lead to pay cuts.

"It's real-world stuff," said Council Chairman Darrel E. Drown, a Republican who represents the Ellicott City area. "It's essential for government to do what private industry has been doing for the last 10 years."

About 200 county workers are eligible for the early-retirement package, and Mr. Drown expects about 30 to accept it. County personnel analysts earlier had said they hoped that nearly 50 workers would participate -- a number that would save about $1.3 million a year.

Details of the plan are different for different workers. Among the incentives are a one-time bonus of 20 percent of a worker's annual salary and payments to workers younger than 62 to compensate for lost Social Security benefits.

New transfer policy

The other personnel matter addressed last night -- the new transfer policy -- awaits further council deliberations.

Under current county laws, department directors have a hard time transferring workers.

For example, the public works director could not simply move a clerk typist from the highway division to the solid waste division, said Jimmie Saylor, Howard County personnel director. The new law would allow such a change.

It also would allow department directors essentially to lay off an employee from a position and shift the employee to a lower-paying position, according to council records.

"It certainly does provide a lot more flexibility," Ms. Saylor said of the proposed law.

She said she hopes to avoid layoffs but that personnel laws must be more flexible if the county is going to cut its spending.

County Executive Charles I. Ecker, citing a slowdown in revenue gains, wants to cut government spending by 12 percent over the next 2 1/2 years.

For months Mr. Ecker has talked about not filling vacancies and moving workers to fill in and, in some cases, share those responsibilities.

Loan approved

Also last night, the council voted to lend $77,778 to C. R. Daniels, an Ellicott City container manufacturer, for expansion.

The state plans to kick in $700,000, in hopes that C. R. Daniels will add 70 jobs as part of an expansion. If the company does so, it will not have to repay the loan.

"The clarion call has gone out: We've got to create more jobs," said council member Dennis R. Schrader, a Republican who represents the north Laurel area.

In the past, the state has been faulted for not keeping track of such job creation incentive packages, according to a 1995 management study by the Maryland Department of Fiscal Services.

But county and state officials said recently that C. R. Daniels will have to prove the existence of 70 new jobs through the quarterly employment reports it submits to the Maryland Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation.

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