Deputy sheriffs turn down 2nd contract from county

20-14 rejection vote puts talks into fact finding as budget deadline nears

May 10, 2000|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Deputy sheriffs rejected a second Anne Arundel County contract offer yesterday, saying the three-year proposal offered neither enough money nor reflected the kind of work they do.

The 20-14 vote belatedly sends the failed talks into fact-finding less than three weeks before the County Council is to approve its 2000-2001 budget.

The county pitched an enhanced version of a proposal unanimously rejected a few weeks ago. The more recent offer would have boosted the deputies' pay an average of 7 percent over three years, phased in a clothing and gun allowance and crunched the pay scale to reach top grade in 10 years instead of the current 22 years.

But in the first year, they would have forfeited the in-grade increase.

And while eyeing the 17 percent raise over three years that went to police, the deputies have been bemoaning the fact that their starting pay is less than that of some 911 operators.

"A lot of people were upset about losing their in-step pay raise for one year," said Dave Belisle, shop steward for the 56 deputies.

J. William Mowery, business agent for the Teamsters local that represents the deputies and other Maryland public employees, said deputies feel that their public safety role has been undervalued.

Besides providing security for the Anne Arundel County Court House, they transport prisoners, serve all court warrants - including arrest warrants - serve summonses that return more than a half-million dollars a year to the county, and must meet the same law enforcement qualifications that police meet. Their two dogs respond to bomb threats throughout the area.

County Personnel Director Randy Schultz said he was disappointed in yesterday's contract rejection.

"I knew that there were some issues, and some of the deputies were opposed to the proposal," he said. "We thought we had reached a settlement."

The next step will take the two sides to a fact-finder, who will make recommendations to County Executive Janet S. Owens.

Owens can present that, or her own recommendation, to the County Council.

Schultz said everyone will be operating on tight deadlines, because the council must sign a budget by June 1.

"After that date, it's whatever is in the budget," Schultz said.

New contracts begin with the new fiscal year July 1.

The budget proposal includes a 2 percent raise for deputies.

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