Cumberland Times-News

Local News

May 24, 2013

Raises for 911 workers for next 3 years

County’s emergency dispatchers cut a deal with commissioners

CUMBERLAND — CUMBERLAND — County emergency dispatchers will see increases in pay for the next three years under a contract signed by workers and Allegany County Thursday evening.

County commissioners ap-proved the agreement at their regular business meeting.

The dispatchers are represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

There are 24 members in the bargaining unit, said Brian P. Westfall, the county’s director of human resources.

“The contract provides ... for a wage adjustment (COLA) of 3 percent for each year of the three-year contract,” Westfall wrote in an email.

Allegany County already planned a 3 percent increase for all county employees in the fiscal year 2014 budget. That increase was the first in four years for county employees.

The 3 percent cost of living adjustment planned for county employees in 2013, would cost $442,237, Jason Bennett, the county’s finance director, has said.

“Both sides came to the table with the intention ... to quickly wrap up the agreement,” Westfall said at the meeting.

It was all smiles and handshakes as the document was signed at the commission meeting.

“This is my first contract with Allegany County. It all went very smoothly,” said Carroll Braun of AFSCME.

Commission President Michael McKay praised the work of the county’s negotiating team, which consists of a number of county department leaders.

The agreement includes a no-strike clause.

“During the term of this agreement ... and accordingly neither the union nor the employee will instigate, promote, sponsor, engage in or condone any strike, slowdown, sick out, concerted stoppage of work, or any other intentional interruption of work. The employer shall have the right to discharge or otherwise discipline any employee who violates the provisions of this article,” the contract said.

No-strike clauses are typical in contracts for government employees, county officials said.

The only method for resolving disputes under the contract are the grievance and arbitration procedures outlined in the agreement, according to the contract language.

A non-absence incentive is included in the agreement for each six-month period during that an employee does not utilize sick leave. The award is $75 or eight hours’ pay, whichever is greater.

Health insurance terms in the contract vary based on the date of hire.

Employees hired before July 1, 2006, pay 8 percent of the premium for whatever coverage level they choose. Employees hired after that date pay 2 percent for individual coverage and 22 percent for dependent coverage.

The savings that made the pay increase for next year possible was largely from savings achieved when the county refinanced its debt earlier this year.

That move saved about $1 million, county officials have said.

Increased revenues also helped. Most of the 1.5 percent increase came from property and income tax revenues.

Almost all of the $308,955 property tax increase can be attributed to the $295,000 payment in lieu of taxes agreement between the county and the owners of the Rocky Gap Casino Resort.

Income tax revenues have increased by $714,600, said Jason Bennett, county finance director.

AFSCME represents em-ployees in several county departments including roads, transit, corrections and the sheriff’s deputies.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.

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