Councilman Pulls Bill for Police Raises
The bill would have increased pay for members of local police unions by up to 3 percent.
A bill that would have raised police unions’ pay was pulled by the councilman who introduced the legislation, saying it lacked support.
Anne Arundel County Councilman Peter Smith (D-1st District), of Severn, said he reluctantly pulled Bill 56-12 on Monday, two weeks after introducing it. The bill would have paved the way to a 3 percent merit raise for members of local police unions—amounting to an estimated payment of between $800,000 to $1 million. That amount was not funded within the 2013 fiscal year budget approved in May.
When he first introduced the legislation in June, Smith said it was the right thing to do. Now, a few days after pulling it, he said his mind hasn’t changed.
“Let me just say that it was not an easy decision,” Smith said. “As leaders our job is not to win political rounds for self-preservation, but to do what is right even when it puts our political careers in jeopardy. Because in the end it is not about me, it’s about you.”
Deputy County Attorney David Plymyer testified before the council meeting on Monday, saying the bill may be illegal, since the budget had already been approved. Plymyer has called the legislation “uncharted territory,” for the council, and warned them that if passed, it could land the county in a lawsuit.
In an email to Patch, Smith outlined the reasons he pulled the bill.
The votes were not there! Even if the bill had passed, the County Executive stated the bill would be vetoed and I was certain there were not 5 votes to override the veto.
I didn’t want to subject the county and the FOP (Fraternal Order of Police) in a suit in which many thousands of dollars litigating an issue over a conceivable multi-year process would ensue when those funds could be used to satisfy the inequities.
I wanted to focus on correcting the institutional problems and ensure their concerns are addressed in the next budget cycle.
After the bill was pulled, County Councilman John Grasso (R-2nd District), of Glen Burnie, went on a tirade against the council, calling them hypocrites. Grasso said he had also tried to get similar legislation in the budget, but found no support among his councilmen.
Cpl. O’Brien Atkinson, head of the Anne Arundel County Fraternal Order of Police, told The Capital that the legislation being pulled made him sick to his stomach.
Atkinson had argued with council members in previous weeks over the merit raises, which were granted by a third-party arbitrator, but denied in the budget process.
This is the first budget season the council has completed since it eliminated binding arbitration.
What You Said
The issue of merit raises for local police raised voices of both concern and support in Patch article comments. Here's what some of our users said:
"When did the police officer and firefighter become the enemy? I'm sure many times they have heard "I don't want your job". —David Murphy
"For those who think our public safety folk should not get raises, I have one question. How much should the person who saves your loved one on a daily basis get paid?" —Brian C.
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