Montgomery County employees will receive a promised 2 percent pay raise.
In the last commissioners’ meeting, county officials voted to give county employees the pay raise that was promised to them. The raise will cost the county about $1 million this year.
Despite cuts in funding the community college, a $10 million gap in the budget that the prior administration passed down, and financial uncertainty, officials agreed to give the raise anyway.
“I don’t know [that] we can voluntarily increase our expenses by $1 million and $2 million next year without knowing for sure what that 2013 picture is going to look like,” said Controller Stewart J. Greenleaf Jr. who strongly opposed the raise. “The uncertainty remains.”
Greenleaf wanted to postpone deciding on the raise until late December, when the county will have more of an idea of its financial status.
The county has yet to reveal if there will be a tax increase, as they have many projects to fund for the future. Despite Greenleaf’s concerns, Chairman Josh Shapiro stood strong by the decisions of raising the salary.
“A promise was made to our county families last year and that is a promise we intend to honor,” said the chairman. “It should be noted that the fund of this increase was included in the 2012 budget. It was a promise made by the prior administration. It is budgeted for, and accounted for, going forward.”
The raise was budgeted in this year’s budget, but the commissioners already made numerous cuts in spending. Deciding to raise the salary for county employees was just another opportunity for the county to save money.
“It is unfair to fix the failures of four years and past administrations on the backs of employees who have gone four years without a raise,” Shapiro said. “It is time to look out for our county family. It is a promise made in December, and it is a promise that I attend to keep today by voting yes.”
County employees haven’t received a pay raise for three and a half years. According to commissioners Bruce Castor, employees health benefits changed, which meant they were required to pay more for healthcare.
“The employees had a pay cut — so they had their benefits changed — so they had to pay much more for health benefits than they had in the past and had no correspondent raise to pay for it, so they essentially had their pay cut in the last three and a half years a great deal,” Castor said.
Employees eligible for the raise are those on the payroll as of Jan. 1. This means that members hired by the new administration will not receive the raise.
“It’s our job to look out for everybody and that is what we did today,” Shapiro said.