Sergeants, county to try again on wage pact

Meeting is tomorrow

last offer rejected

March 15, 2000|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County police sergeants had planned to vote on a labor contract yesterday. Instead, they'll meet tomorrow with county officials to negotiate a proposal.

"We're waiting for something acceptable to bring back to the membership," said Sgt. Bret Ballam, president of the Anne Arundel Sergeants Association, which represents about 75 sergeants in the county.

On Friday, the sergeants association rejected the county's offer of 5 percent to 15 percent pay increases -- depending on a sergeant's experience -- next year, Ballam said. "It wouldn't have even brought us close to comparable with other departments," he said.

Under the county's proposal, top salary for Anne Arundel sergeants would have been $60,018 next year, Ballam said. In Baltimore County, a top sergeant will earn $67,231, while top Howard County sergeants make $68,070 and Maryland State Police sergeants earn $74,399.

The county's offer would also have meant that, in many cases, police officers, who will receive a 17 percent pay raise over the next three years, would earn more than the sergeants who supervise them, Ballam said. That situation exists in some cases now, he said.

Sergeants in nearby counties earn about 15 percent to 20 percent more than the officers they supervise, said Ballam.

When the sergeants group meets with county officials tomorrow morning, it will propose a 15 percent to 35 percent pay raise over the next three years, Ballam said.

Salary for Anne Arundel sergeants ranges from $39,658 to $57,160.

"From what [County Executive Janet S.] Owens has said, it's been clear that she wants to reach parity. If you want to hire and retain professionals, you have to pay them," Ballam said.

In 1999, sergeants received a 3 percent raise. But in 1998 and 1997, they received less than 2 percent raises, and much of those increases were delayed, union officials say. In 1996 and 1995, the sergeants received no increase. County personnel director Randy Schultz declined to comment on negotiations with the sergeants.

The county is negotiating with six bargaining units, which represent about 2,000 county employees, including firefighters, deputy sheriffs, corrections officers, clerical staff and equipment operators.

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