Annapolis to consider pay plan for military reservists

October 08, 2001|By Amanda J. Crawford | Amanda J. Crawford,SUN STAFF

Employees of the city of Annapolis called to active military duty would receive a supplementary salary and continued benefits under a measure to be introduced at today's city council meeting.

The legislation, sponsored by Mayor Dean L. Johnson, would prevent about 16 city employees who are members of the military reserves or National Guard from losing income and benefits if they are called to active duty as a result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"We are trying to support our armed service, our country and our employees," said Kimla T. Milburn, the city's human resources director.

Under the legislation, the city would pay employees the difference between their city salary and their military salary and allowances while they are on active duty and away from their jobs. It also would allow them and their families to continue receiving medical benefits and would have the city pick up 100 percent of health-care costs, as opposed to the 90 percent the city currently covers. The time spent away from their jobs would be counted toward their retirement as if they had been working.

Johnson said if the legislation passes it would show "that we support them in their endeavors to protect us as a country and we look forward to their return."

Officer Eric E. Crane, a public information officer with the city Police Department, is among a handful of city employees who have been called to active military duty. Crane is a technical sergeant and security force member with the D.C. Air National Guard. He has been reporting to Andrew's Air Force Base since Sept. 12.

Crane called the proposed resolution "great news" for city employees called to active duty.

"It's one less thing I'd have to worry about because nobody knows what is going to happen," he said.

If passed, the measure would expire July 1. Johnson said the expiration date would keep the program within the budget year, but that it could be renewed at that time.

At the meeting, the city council will also consider an ordinance that would change the city's election law so that political parties recognized by the state would be recognized by the city.

The issue arose after Ward 1 city council candidate Isaac Opalinsky was told that his affiliation with the Green Party would not be listed on the ballot in the Nov. 6 general election.

Under current city code, a candidate's party must have received 3 percent of the vote in the last city election. Critics say that condition makes it impossible for a third party ever to get on the ballot, since it would have to already be on a ballot in order to get the percentage of votes required.

After reviewing the law, the city board of elections recommended that the council revise it. The ordinance would change the law so that parties recognized by the state - like the Green Party - or those that received 3 percent of the vote in the last presidential election would be recognized as political parties by the city.

Alderman Louise Hammond, whose seat Opalinsky is vying for, is among the four sponsors of the legislation.

Hammond said the law presented a Catch-22 that needed to be resolved.

Johnson said the council may suspend procedural rules so that it could take the final vote on that legislation at tonight's meeting in time for the Friday deadline for the preparation of ballots.

The council will meet at 7:30 p.m. in the council chamber in City Hall on Duke of Gloucester Street.

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