MACo: Don’t Attach Unfunded Mandate To County Grants

MACo Associate Director Barbara Zektick testified in opposition to legislation (HB 854) requiring county employers to provide paid sick leave at a mandated rate of pay for State grant-funded employees. She mentioned that many counties hire employees with state grant funds to fill gaps in service, or serve on-call, part-time, seasonally, or as needed. While counties generally provide paid sick leave to their full-time employees, extending these benefits to employees who may only work a few days a month would not always make sense and would increase financial and administrative burdens. Reducing grant funds to cover administrative costs would also leave less funding available for the community services intended for funding by the grant.

MACo’s testimony states:

Requiring State grant-funded employees to be provided with paid sick leave would most likely reduce overall output. This could shift the effectiveness of the grant away from the primary service recipients and toward overhead costs.

County community services and aging agencies are struggling to continue all services as they transition to new fee-for-service models. At the same time, populations of elderly individuals are rising in Maryland, and residents in many areas of the state still suffer from the recession. Counties seek out grant funding to help continue key services in difficult times.

Many grant-funded employees receive some type of paid time off, though it may not be categorized as sick leave or precisely equivalent to that of other employees. Requiring specific benefits for each State grant-funded employee will add administrative complexities to grant tracking and could reduce services provided to residents in need.