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Union Head: County Hopes to Save $4 Million Through Layoffs

Officials briefing union heads in Prince George's County on Tuesday morning provided few details about how they plan to reconcile a $22.7 million cut in state funding, a union chief who attended said, but officials did outline the broad strokes of how much they plan to save through layoffs and when they plan to implement them.

In the 45-minute sit-down -- for which County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) was absent -- union officials were told that the county was seeking to save about $4 million through layoffs, said Vince Canales, president of the county's Fraternal Order of Police. But they declined to say how many -- or which -- jobs that represented. Officials said affected employees would be notified Oct. 1, and would be let go Nov. 1, Canales said.

"Thirty days and you're gone," said Canales, a stalwart opponent of layoffs.

Canales also said county officials ruled out tapping the "undesignated fund balance" -- the county's reserve fund -- to make up the difference. The county has long held that using the fund would be irresponsible, partly because it might jeopardize the county's AAA bond rating -- a position a federal judge examined in a recent ruling that struck down the county's furlough plan implemented last fiscal year.

Johnson discussed the topic with members of the County Council last week in a last-minute meeting, for which almost no advance notice was given to the public. Tuesday's meeting was by invitation only, Keary said last week.

Johnson's spokesman, James P. Keary, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday's meeting. Johnson is expected to announce how the cuts will be achieved later this week.

Update: Asked to comment on the numbers reported by Canales, Keary did not get into specifics, saying, "There's nothing that's concrete yet as far as how the cuts will be done. ... I don't believe that any numbers are etched in stone."

By Jonathan Mummolo  |  September 15, 2009; 3:49 PM ET
Categories:  Jonathan Mummolo , Maryland State Budget , Prince George's County  
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If maybe the unions bit the bullet on furloughs, they wouldn't be facing (as many) layoffs. But when you appeal to a judge to over-turn legitimate, lawful executive decisions on the budget, sometimes it comes back to bite you.

Too late for PG unions to hit the re-wind button?

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | September 15, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Maybe if the public officials, who are also paid, were more responsible and budget properly the county wouldn't be in this position. What is the point of having reserve funds if they are not used to continue providing services during economic down turns.

Posted by: robtay77 | September 16, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

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