Howard police tentatively OK pact with average 15% pay raise next year

April 10, 1999|By Nancy A. Youssef | Nancy A. Youssef,SUN STAFF

Howard County and police union officials have negotiated a tentative three-year agreement that would give officers an average 15 percent raise next fiscal year, their biggest raise in a decade.

The agreement reached late Thursday night is based on a restructured pay scale, allowing officers to reach the maximum salary at 12 years instead of the current 19. County officials also agreed to raise the starting salary from $27,082 to $31,310, said Cpl. John Paparazzo, president of the Howard County Police Officers Association.

In addition, officers will receive a 3.4 percent cost-of-living adjustment on June 30, 2000, the last day of the fiscal year. Combined, the changes amount to an average 15 percent increase for about 250 of the department's 313 officers, from recruits to corporals.

"Everyone had the same objective: making police salaries more competitive in the market," said Cecil Bray, Howard County's deputy chief administrative officer.

The county is one of several jurisdictions trying to offer enticing salaries to recruit and retain officers in their department. Baltimore County and the Maryland State Police increased starting salaries to more than $30,000. Anne Arundel increased its starting salary by 3 percent, to just over $28,000.

Those changes dropped Howard County starting salaries below those of six other metropolitan departments. The tentative agreement would move Howard to third place, Bray said.

The new pay package would cost the county $1 million in the first year, he said.

Officials are working to include nonunionized officers -- sergeants, lieutenants and majors -- in the new pay scale, Bray said. "I can assure you they will be taken care of," he said.

Union members will vote on a final agreement by the end of the month, Paparazzo said.

If the new pay scale is approved, officers will receive a 3.5 percent increase every step they rise. Now, officers receive 2.5 percent raises until they reach the 19-year ceiling.

The maximum salary in the new scale would be $56,984, up from $49,941, Paparazzo said.

To help the county pay for the new agreement, the union agreed to forgo merit pay and to postpone a cost-of-living adjustment until the end of the fiscal year.

Pub Date: 4/10/99

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