Saturday, May 25, 2013 11:48 PM
Published on: Thursday, March 07, 2013
By Holden Wilen
ROCKVILLE - Everyone knows taxpayers pay for the salaries of county employees, but at least one member of the Montgomery County Council says taxpayers aren’t getting their money’s worth.
According to an Office of Legislative Oversight report released by the County Council during Tuesday’s meeting executive branch employees are available to work 81 percent of the time. The report examines employee work hours and leave in Montgomery County government.
“The bottom line is for every five hours taxpayers pay for, county employees are available to work four hours,” Councilmember Phil Andrews aid.
In light of the pay raises proposed by County Executive Ike Leggett, Andrews said the Council needs to understand the basic cost of contracts. Not only is there a cost for the base pay for employees, he said, but there is an overtime cost as well. Andrews asked the Office of Legislative Oversight to come up with an estimated cost for overtime pay, so the Council can fully understand the costs. He said he knows the estimate will be in the millions because the report estimated an overtime cost of over $63 million from Jan. 2011 through June 2012.
The report recommends the Council review and determine whether there is a reasonable number of required regular hours an employee should work before being able to work overtime hours. According to the report, 1,045 executive branch employees worked in at least three pay periods when they worked fewer than half their regular hours, and 245 employees worked overtime in at least one pay period working no regular hours.
The report also identifies departments which have problems with leave abuse. The county’s Department of Correction and Rehabilitation placed 11 percent of its employees on sick leave restriction, and the Department of Transportation placed six percent of its employees on sick leave restriction.
During the meeting, the Council also unanimously passed bill 38-12 which requires county departments and agencies to provide impact statements on future construction projects analyzing the feasibility of including childcare facilities as part of the project.
During the discussion of the bill, the council members focused on an amendment to the bill made by Councilmember Nancy Navarro which directs the executive branch to assign highest priority to the provision of childcare in areas with large numbers of low-income parents. Navarro said she proposed the amendment with the hope of increasing equality in childcare for Latin and African-American children who lack quality preschool experiences. The amendment passed 8-1, with only Councilmember George Leventhal voting against including the amendment.
“When you’re a policy maker, no matter how large or small you have to take advantage of every opportunity to be cohesive,” Navarro said.