Harford council kills Craig's employee buyout offer

The Harford County Council has decided not to even consider County Executive David Craig's proposed retirement incentive aimed at more than 240 senior county government employees.

During its legislative session Tuesday night, the council right out of the gate rejected legislation setting up the buyout, an unusually decisive move that passed 6 to 1. Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti cast the only dissenting vote.

The vote was taken shortly after Craig delivered his final State of the County address, telling a packed council chambers that retirement incentives have helped make government "leaner and more efficient."

Council President Billy Boniface said council members had widely different reasons for opposing Craig's incentive, but he said it was clear the bill would not pass. Like Craig, Boniface is leaving county government at the end of this year.

Craig had announced the incentive last month, saying it would cost $2 million but would save an additional $4 million through the first six months of the new fiscal year starting in July.

The incentive would have paid 100 percent of an employee's accrued sick leave balance instead of the normal 50 percent.

The offer only targeted employees directly under Craig's control and thus would not have been available to employees of the Harford County Sheriff's Office, Harford County Public Library and Harford County Public Schools.

Boniface said it was unclear where the money for the incentive would come from, while Councilman Dion Guthrie said the deal did not go far enough.

Boniface also said it did not make sense to let the bill go to a public hearing, since it did not directly affect the public. He added that Craig's administration knew beforehand the council would not approve the bill as presented.

The legislation originally was slated to be introduced on Jan. 21, but that meeting was canceled because of inclement weather.

Guthrie said the bill was primarily aimed at Craig's higher-paid employees and said it should have been offered to school employees and other agencies like the Sheriff's Office.

Craig left Tuesday's council session before the retirement incentive legislation was rejected. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday or Thursday.

The county executive offered a similar retirement incentive in 2010, which resulted in 53 employees leaving. That plan had included sheriff's deputies.

Craig, who is limited to two consecutive terms by the county charter, will leave office in early December. He is a candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad