The Baltimore County police union is asking a judge to hold Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and other county officials in contempt for not complying with an order to refund more than $1.4 million to retirees who overpaid health insurance premiums.
A county spokeswoman on Wednesday called the filing "a publicity stunt," and said officials believe the refund order — which stems from a case that's been argued for nearly six years — will ultimately be reversed.
The dispute between the county and the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge No. 4, dates to 2008, when an arbitrator agreed with the union that the county violated a memorandum of understanding when it shifted additional health care costs to officers who retired between 1992 and 2007.
Baltimore County had originally been ordered in August to pay $573,000 to the retirees, but that figure was increased in February to $1,413,120.81 after a damages hearing, which was held at the county's request.
On March 4, Baltimore County Circuit Judge Michael Finifter ordered the county to pay the damages.
The order does not list a specific time when the sum must be paid, but the county has not acted, and the contempt petition was filed by the union last week. It names Kamenetz as well as county budget director Keith Dorsey and administrative officer Fred Homan.
"I think what the county is doing by not paying, is irresponsible and not a prudent use of taxpayer dollars," said David Rose, second vice president of the union.
The county has an appeal of the 2013 ruling pending before the Court of Special Appeals. County officials contend the shift in health care costs had been negotiated by a health care review committee that included union representatives, and that by challenging it, the FOP reneged on an agreement made by its own representative.
"The petition for contempt is simply a publicity stunt," Ellen Kobler, a county spokeswoman, said in a statement. "We are confident the petition is without merit, and we will file a response at the appropriate time."
The police union also filed a motion Wednesday to reserve the right to appeal another aspect of the judge's decision: Finifter had denied the group a $400,000 payment in attorney fees and interest.
Baltimore Sun reporters Alison Knezevich and Jessica Anderson contributed to this article.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun