A bill that would fund police union raises would require a budget amendment, which could place the County Council in "uncharted territory," the county attorney reportedly said this week.
Under Bill 56-12, a 3 percent pay increase would be granted to police officers, including the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 70, AFSCME, Local 582 and Local 2563.
The bill's sponsor, Councilman Peter Smith (D-1st District), estimated the cost to be between $800,000 and $1 million—money that was not included in the budget for next year, which was approved in May. If the bill is approved, Council members must come up with a way to pay for it.
County Attorney David Plymyer cautioned the County Council against the bill on Tuesday. The Capital reported that Plymyer told the council amending the budget could open the door to lawsuits, calling it potentially illegal and beyond the authority of the council.
In 2011, council members put an end to binding arbitration, changing the law requiring them to agree to an arbitrator's decision on union negotiations. Smith's bill would give the council an opportunity to go along with the arbitrator's decision voluntarily instead of being forced.
The bill is scheduled to be up for a vote at the County Council's July 2 meeting at 7 p.m. For a full listing of bills scheduled to be discussed at the meeting, visit the County Council's website.
Debate over the bill has been heated within Patch comments. Here are what some readers had to say about the issue:
- "When did the police officer and firefighter become the enemy? I'm sure many times they have heard 'I don't want your job.' Now when the economy turns sour they are looked at as having these great paying jobs with great benefits at the taxpayers expense." — 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? Pay the public safety folks ... they already have to wear those silly uniforms. (bad attempt at a joke)." — Brian C.
- "How about more police instead of raises for those that get tremendous pensions as it is." — Ronald