Court rules for pension increase

ARUNDEL DIGEST

December 16, 2007

The city of Annapolis must increase retiree pensions in tandem with any increases in pay scale given to active employees of the same rank and years of service, the state's highest court has found.

A group of more than 60 retired police officers and firefighters filed suit in Anne Arundel County in 2002 and 2004 after the city's civil service board refused to consider their appeals for increases in their pension in light of adjustments made to the pay scale. The Circuit Court sided with the retirees, but failed to offer a declaratory judgment. The city appealed to the Court of Special Appeals, which reversed the lower court judgment by finding that an "equalization clause" only applied to cost-of-living adjustments and not structural changes in the pay scale.

In a decision published Friday, the Maryland Court of Appeals said the civil service board's failure to consider the retirees' claims was "unreasonable action" and remanded the case back to Circuit Court for declaratory judgment.

Justin Fenton

County announces new online feature

Anne Arundel County has launched a new online feature that will help residents access news and information about the Department of Public Works, officials said on Friday.

Videos are available at www.aacounty.org/video/DPW_TV.cfm. Citizens can access the videos through the DPW TV link on the county's homepage at www.aacounty .org. They will also be posted on YouTube and be accessible as podcasts.

"Public Works has more interaction with the public than any other agency in county government, and we want to make it easier for people to learn about our services," said Department of Public Works Director Ron Bowen.

County Executive John R. Leopold said the launch of DPW TV allows residents to gain a more in-depth knowledge of how the county works and the services it provides.

"Multimedia is one of the best ways to reach the public because so many people get their information online," Leopold said. "They will also get to know the hundreds of county employees who work for them every day on the roads and in the trenches."

Early topics include the procedure for road resurfacing, readiness for the snow season, the county's new recycling campaign and a profile of one of the snow plow drivers.

Museum donations worth twice as much

The Chesapeake Children's Museum in Annapolis is seeking donations this holiday season, because any contribution will be doubled by the state.

The Maryland General Assembly last year allocated a $115,000 matching grant for the museum to add spaces for hands-on learning: construction of a multipurpose classroom, an owl habitat and a rooftop observatory. The grant runs out June 1, 2008.

"We only have a few months to take advantage of this support and this is the perfect time to do it," said Deborah Wood, executive director of the museum. "Every dollar is worth two, and we have plans to significantly improve the facility with these funds."

The donation is also eligible for an individual income tax credit, since the museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Chesapeake Children's Museum is located at 25 Silopanna Road, Annapolis, in the Spa Creek Conservancy Park.

Information: debbie@thec cm.org or 410-990-1993.

2 families, 2 homes through Habitat

Two families were expected to accept keys yesterday to their new homes built by Arundel Habitat for Humanity in Brooklyn.

Friends, family members, and local church members were scheduled to join Tonier "Toni" Cain and her daughter Orlandra, 3, at the ceremony outside their new home at 440 E. Patapsco Ave. The second family, which Habitat isn't identifying "for reasons of personal safety" was also to take ownership of a new home at 442 E. Patapsco Ave.

These new homes are part of Arundel Habitat's ongoing effort to make decent, affordable houses available to vulnerable families while revitalizing neighborhoods within the Brooklyn/Curtis Bay community.

Both houses were built through a partnership between Habitat for Humanity International and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

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