By Erin Cox, The Baltimore Sun
9:17 PM EST, November 5, 2012
In the wake of a court ruling requiring it, Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold wants to give $1.6 million worth of raises to police officers and other county employees.
Legislation introduced Monday would fulfill the contract an arbitrator recommended this spring for 3 percent raises for the more than 550 officers who belong to the Fraternal Order of Police. Another union with about 1,000 employees had what officials described as a "me-too" clause entitling its members to raises if another bargaining unit received them.
The legislation comes less than two months after a Court of Appeals ruling against Anne Arundel County. Public safety workers sued the government in 2011 after the County Council gutted binding arbitration, a process used for settling labor disputes. Maryland's highest court reversed the council's action in September, reinstating a process approved by voters in 2002.
Leopold had sought to dismantle it, arguing that elected leaders, not an arbitrator, should decide how to spend taxpayer money during tight financial times. Under the legislation introduced Monday, which requires County Council approval, thousands of other county workers will continue to go without pay raises.
This year is the first in several that county workers were not asked to take furloughs to close a budget gap caused by the recession, falling property tax revenue and a cut in state aid. Leopold said through his spokesman that the county could not afford raises for all workers, and that Leopold promised to return the pay increase awarded to him by county law.
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