County gives merit pay to 672 workers

Bonuses or raises go to majority of nonunion employees

`An outstanding job'

Total is $938,000

amounts range from $27 to $7,000

January 17, 2001|By Scott Calvert | Scott Calvert,SUN STAFF

The vast majority of Anne Arundel County's nonunion employees got a belated Christmas gift in their paychecks last week -- "pay-for-performance" awards worth a collective $938,000 during the final six months of this fiscal year.

Of 871 employees not represented by unions, 672 received a financial thank you of some sort. Some were as low as $27, and several exceeded $7,000.

The merit awards are presented as one-time bonuses or as raises of up to 10 percent. The average salary increase was 4.7 percent, or $2,064. The average one-time award was $1,700.

The awards are in addition to the 2 percent across-the-board pay raises that nonunion employees received in July.

"The county depends on its midlevel managers to deliver day in and day out," County Executive Janet S. Owens said yesterday in releasing a detailed list of who got what. "When they do an outstanding job, we owe them more than our thanks."

Owens was far more generous than she was last year, when she handed out $295,000 in lump-sum payments. This year's lump-sum payments totaled $462,000, and $476,000 went for recurring salary adjustments.

In 1998, County Executive John G. Gary awarded $358,544 in bonuses to 165 employees -- some receiving sums that approached $7,000.

This year, two deputy police chiefs appeared to make out the best. Emerson Davis got a 9.2 percent raise, increasing his salary by $7,737, to $92,050. David G. Shipley's salary rose by 10 percent, to $84,383.

In all, 16 employees received 10 percent raises. They include some familiar names, including Michael E. Busch, a state delegate from Annapolis who works at the Parks and Recreation Department. Another highly rewarded recipient was recreation official William F. Chaney Jr., son of Owens adviser William F. Chaney.

"Good for him. He works hard," the elder Chaney said when told of his son's award. He noted that his son began working for the county more than a decade ago, long before Owens was elected county executive in 1998.

The Public Works Department had the most recipients of any department, with 114.

The breakdown was released the same day the county began a new round of labor talks with the union representing more than 800 blue-collar employees, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 582.

Last year, the union rejected a proposed contract that would have raised salaries by 6 percent over three years. As a result, members got a one-year raise of 2 percent.

Unionized rank-and-file public safety employees fared much better in contract negotiations. Police officers are receiving 15 percent more this year because of a 7 percent wage increase and other enhancements. Firefighters won a deal that will increase their wages by 19 percent over three years.

Scott Harmon, president of Local 582, declined to comment on the pay-for-performance awards but noted, "Everybody got more money than us."

Gary implemented the one-time bonus system in 1996 to reward employees who did a good job during the year but are at the top of their pay scales and ineligible for raises.

The raises are based on supervisor evaluations. Employees in the top two rankings were eligible for a percentage increase if they had not reached the top of their pay scale. Those who had could receive lump-sum bonuses, but only if they received the highest job performance grade.

The list released yesterday did not include Owens appointees, including department heads and other executive positions. She said she had not decided on those amounts.

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