Cumberland Times-News

April 19, 2013

Raise for Allegany workers?

Pay hike for county employees would be first in years

Matthew Bieniek
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — County employees could see their first pay increase in years if Allegany County commissioners approve budget plans offered by Jason Bennett, the county’s finance director.

Commissioners had earlier asked Bennett to come up with scenarios to incorporate a possible cost of living adjustment for employees and funds for various agencies.

“It’s a balanced budget, and incorporates the things you asked for,” Bennett said. The county is required by law to have a balanced budget.

A 3 percent across-the-board COLA will boost county employees pay if commissioners approve.

Bennett didn’t have the cost of the proposal available when he discussed the possibility with commissioners at their work session Thursday at county offices on Kelly Road.

The county has about 400 employees, Bennett said.

Besides the pay increase for county employees, the county library system, Allegany College of Maryland and the Human Resources Development Commission benefitted from Bennett’s magic with numbers.

In addition, a contingency fund of $190,000 was set up to fund the sheriff’s plan for school security. That number might have to be adjusted upward, said Commission President Michael McKay.

A $130,000 infusion of cash for the college may abate a planned 3 percent tuition increase and allow the college to reduce the increase to 2 percent, Bennett said.

The college had planned to increase from the current $105 per credit hour to $108 per credit hour, college officials said.

The college also anticipates a 2 percent salary increase for employees and a 13 percent health insurance increase. The college’s fiscal year 2014 budget also anticipates a 3 percent tuition increase, college officials said.

The HRDC will receive an additional $30,000 if commissioners approve the budget, and the Allegany County library system will receive $35,000. The library will use most of the money to retain staff members.

“We’ve lost two young and energetic staff members,” Taube told commissioners weeks ago during his budget request.

They went on to comparable positions at libraries with higher pay scales, Taube said.

“Those resignations are the kind of people we want to keep.”

Librarians with more experience can make a 20 percent higher salary in similar jurisdictions, which Taube compared.

The comparison counties included Washington, Garrett, Wicomico, Somerset and Baltimore City.

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