MoCo Council Member: Reduce Raises
Council member Duchy Trachtenberg, who leads Montgomery County's key fiscal committee, said today that she would recommend trimming raises for most county workers by 2 percent and by a half percent for firefighters.
Trachtenberg's proposal comes as the council considers raising property taxes and cutting government services next week to close a projected $300 million budget shortfall. Before today, Phil Andrews was the only council member to directly take on the issue of employee salaries.
"The contract terms are the white elephant in the room and it's time we all have an honest conversation about them," Trachtenberg said. "We have to honor the contributions of our employees and provide good wages, but we need to do it in a responsible manner."
John Sparks, president of the firefighters' union seemed cool to the idea. A half percent reduction over a career, he said in an e-mail, "adds up to quite a lot of money." Moreover, he said, firefighters just finished contract negotiations in which they agreed to a list of concessions in light of the budget situation.
Yesterday, top council aides and Council President Michael Knapp discussed an alternative way to save money without reducing raises: The council could force employees to take unpaid time off during holidays, such as the day after Thanksgiving or the week between Christmas and the New Year. Each day could save the county $7 million.
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