On Tuesday, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett signed agreements with various public employee unions, granting additional compensatory leave to general government employees, firefighters, and police. The newly signed agreements have caused tension between Leggett and some members of the Montgomery County Council. The Gazette reports
Leggett is operating under an opinion issued Friday by Acting County Attorney Marc Hansen that states the executive can proceed without the approval of the council.
The council disagrees, saying it has the final fiscal authority. The council still intends to discuss the paid leave and some other contract changes, and possibly take a vote, although it is unclear whether the vote will be moot.
At issue is whether the provision has a cost. Leggett and his aides say it does not, while the county’s Office of Legislative Oversight found that granting between two and three additional days of paid leave for employees will cost the county $7 million.
In a memo Friday to council President Nancy M. Floreen (D-At large) of Garrett Park, Leggett cites Hansen’s opinion and says employees deserve the additional paid leave because they have taken pay freezes and furloughs in the coming year.
The council voted unanimously not to approve any new spending on employee raises or benefits in fiscal 2011. Leggett returned to the bargaining table with the unions after the council rejected several contract provisions in its budget decisions.
In addition to paid leave, the contracts Leggett renegotiated with the three employee unions include $135,000 in tuition assistance for county police and perks, such as free admission to public pools and gyms for the county’s volunteer firefighters, which Leggett’s office said would not have a cost.
Councilman George L. Leventhal (D-At large) of Takoma Park said Tuesday that he disagreed with that assessment. He said there would be a loss of revenue to the county.