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County unions combine to lobby for pay raise


Six labor unions representing Anne Arundel County government employees have joined forces to press County Executive Robert R. Neall and the council for a 4 percent pay raise.

Members of the Public Employees Labor Coalition of Anne Arundel County said at a news conference yesterday that the county executive underestimated revenues in the coming year's budget he submitted to the council on Monday.

The coalition -- which includes unions that represent blue-collar and secretarial employees, teachers and school administrators, police officers, sheriffs and detention center employees -- plans to lobby the council to grant the raises during its budget hearings.

According to the coalition's analysis, there will be plenty of money to pay for the $13 million cost of the pay increase.

"For the past two years, all public employees in Anne Arundel County have been denied cost-of-living increases, resulting in a steady loss of real income for our county's 10,000 employees," said Dee Zepp, president of the Secretaries and Assistants Association of Anne Arundel County, one of the member unions.

"The county executive justifies these inequities on the fiscal situation, but his views are out of line with current reality," Ms. Zepp said. "There is no fiscal justification for the penalties he is imposing on public employees in this county. And there is no fiscal justification for the damage he is doing to important fiscal services."

Specifically, the coalition holds that the county underestimated revenues in the current 1993 fiscal year: $8.7 million in the amount of income tax collected and $4.7 million in recordation and transfer tax.

Money for the pay raises, the coalition said, could have come from a number of sources: the $5.1 million budget surplus from 1992; the $10 million rainy day fund; $10.5 million from pay-as-you-go construction funds; and $20 million that was overpaid to the pension fund.

The coalition said its estimate indicates the county will have sufficient revenue in fiscal year 1994 to cover raises: $2 million from the rainy day fund; $12.5 million earmarked for the pay-as-you-go capital fund; and $7 million more in income and recordation and transfer taxes than Mr. Neall has projected.

County officials agreed that there was a budget surplus in 1992 and 1993, but explained that money was used to pay the Society Security taxes for teachers, librarians and community college employees that the county took over from the state.

Budget officer Steven E. Welkos also defended the county's budget numbers: "When you're estimating revenues for [the] entire county, you've got to be conservative. That's the responsible thing to do."

Mr. Welkos added that a 4 percent pay increase would more likely cost between $18 million and $20 million, instead of the $13 million figure estimated by the unions.

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