CUMBERLAND — Negotiations with the union representing sheriff’s deputies have hit a snag, but Allegany County Commission President Michael McKay made it clear that the holdup won’t stop the reunification of the Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Police on July 1.

“July 1 is the ... date. There are no major hurdles,” he said.

McKay said the county’s legal staff is handling negotiations with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1521, which represents the sheriff’s deputies. McKay didn’t specify the contractual issue, but did say it was discussed by commissioners in executive session Thursday.

The commission has never recognized the Maryland Classified Employees Association, which BOP members voted to join late last year.

The reunification process began when the BOP was put under the control of Sheriff Craig Robertson May 19 when commissioners passed a resolution to that effect.

McKay had hoped to have a memorandum of understanding in place between commissioners and the sheriff on the merger at Thursday’s meeting, but the union negotiation has pushed that back to at least to the June 30 commission meeting, McKay said. The resolution that put Robertson in charge also attempted to address some contractual issues.

Among the items addressed in the resolution were agreements regarding seniority. The resolution requires votes by unions representing both groups of officers or individual waivers to be signed regarding seniority issues by BOP officers.

The seniority changes run counter to the collective bargaining agreement between the county and sheriff’s deputies, represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1521, so the changes must be negotiated and then voted on by members of that union before unification, County Attorney Bill Rudd has said.

BOP officers must likewise either agree to the process through their union or individually, since they will lose seniority they have in county employment for their time at the BOP.

The resolution would have sheriff’s deputies maintain their current seniority levels. Bureau of Police officers who were sheriff’s deputies before the formation of the county force in 2008 will receive credit for all their time spent as deputies, but no credit for their BOP service.

A master seniority list of all officers will be created for the department. It will be used only for purposes of furloughs and reduction of force situations. In all other cases, seniority will be determined within each of two divisions of the Sheriff’s Office, a judicial division and a patrol division.

The officers in the merged department would continue in their current functions, with former bureau officers forming the patrol division and current deputies maintaining their roles as a judicial division in the Sheriff’s Office, according to Robertson.

In executive session, commissioners also discussed the employment situation of two county employees. McKay has said Bobby Dick, the chief of the BOP, and Lt. Rodney Bell, would remain employed by the county. No decisions were taken at the executive session, McKay said.

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

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