Arundel deputies expected to vote on contract tonight; County's offer is 3rd in six weeks, resembles last pact rejected


Anne Arundel County deputy sheriffs are expected to vote tonight on the county's latest contract offer, the third in six weeks.

The vote will come less than a day before a fact-finder is to issue contract recommendations.

The newest offer is not much different from the last three-year pact that deputies rejected. That one would have crunched the pay scale so that workers would reach the top in 10 years instead of 22, offered an average 7 percent pay hike stretched over three years and phased in a gun and clothing allowance of about $650.

The latest offer "sweetens the pot a little" by upping the gun and clothing allowance by several hundred dollars, said J. William Mowery, business agent for the Teamsters local that represents 56 the deputies.

The latest proposal, like the last, would increase starting pay from $25,800 -- less than some of the county's 911 emergency dispatchers -- to about $29,000.

Deputies, like firefighters and paramedics, have been angling for the county to match the 17 percent raise it negotiated with police in a three-year contract that begins July 1. Officials refused.

Deputies have complained that they feel county officials undervalue the work they do. They provide courthouse security, serve all court warrants, serve summonses that return more than a half-million dollars a year to the county and must meet the same law enforcement qualifications that police meet. The sheriff's department's two dogs respond to bomb threats throughout the area.

After deputies rejected the county's second offer last week, the two sides met with a fact-finder. The fact-finder is to issue a report tomorrow, which could be moot if the deputies accept the county's offer.

If the offer is rejected, the report's recommendations will be forwarded to County Executive Janet S. Owens. She is not bound by them in her recommendation to the County Council, which would be made Monday.

The council must finish a budget by the end of this month for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

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