New legislation from the Anne Arundel County Council would grant police union members a combined pay raise of between $800,000 and $1 million, more than a week after next year's budget was finalized.
A bill introduced by freshman County Councilman Peter Smith (D-1st District), of Severn, would grant police unions the raises outlined by arbitrators just before the county's fiscal year 2013 budget was approved. No vote has been taken on the legislation, but it is scheduled to be considered in July.
Smith said the arbitrator's decision with police union negotiators simply came too late to be included in budget discussions. However, Smith said it deserved consideration.
"This is the right thing to do. It should at least be considered," Smith said. "The FOP [Fraternal Order of Police] has done its part of the process. Now it's our turn."
Under Bill 56-12, a 3-percent pay increase would be granted to about 1,250 police officers, including the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 70, AFSCME, Local 582 and Local 2563.
Funding, which Smith estimated between $800,000 and $1 million, was not included in the budget. If the bill is approved, Council members must come up with a way to pay for it.
Cpl. O'Brien Atkinson, head of the FOP, who attended the Council's 10-hour budget hearing on May 28, said he was hopeful for the bill after being dismayed that it wasn't included in the initial budget.
He said the pay increase is essential to stabilizing the county police workforce, given the current state of morale.
"Morale has reached epic lows," Atkinson said. "Our agency is about to start hemorrhaging from the top and bottom."
Atkinson referred to the tension in the department created by the ongoing investigation into . In March, local police unions cast a vote of no confidence in Teare. In April, the Council did the same with .
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.
Bill 56-12 will be up for consideration at the Council's July 2 meeting at 7 p.m. in the Council chambers.