County Poised to Dramatically Cut Benefits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 2, 2014

For more information, contact Linto Thomas, Conti for our County Campaign, (215) 284-4635


COUNTY POISED TO DRAMATICALLY CUT BENEFITS FOR FIRST RESPONDERS, EMPLOYEES AND RETIREES
     Survey shows more than 30% of county employees plan to leave before the changes go into effect

ANNAPOLIS:  The Anne Arundel County Council will vote on January 6, 2014 on Bill 85-13, a bill that incorporates numerous changes to health care benefits for employees and retirees of Anne Arundel County.  Joanna Conti, Democratic candidate for County Executive, conducted a survey in early-December to learn the impact proposed changes would have on employees and retirees.  The survey was completed by 744 current employees (20% of the 3,719 employees on the county’s health care plan) and 297 retirees.

“If this bill is passed on Monday, average health care costs for first responders and other county employees will more than double in the next two years and younger retirees will see their costs increase almost as much”, says Conti.   “While the survey respondents’ number one concern was how much their costs would go up, employees and retirees were also infuriated by how the bill strips them of the ability to negotiate all but one aspect of their health care plans and removes guarantees of what portion of their and their spouses’ retirement health care costs will be covered by the county”.

The changes being considered were so severe that 36.4% of current employees taking the survey said they would leave the county’s employ if the bill passed.  However, since two of the elements discussed in the early-December survey were not included in the final bill, this overstates the percentage of employees who would plan to quit.  Excluding survey respondents who said they were concerned about these two elements, 32% of the remaining survey respondents said they would leave or join the DROP program before the bill goes fully into effect in January, 2017.

“Such a mass exodus of our valued first responders and other employees would not only affect the county’s ability to provide the services our citizens deserve, but would be financially damaging for the county”, according to Conti.  “The county has invested at least $76,000 in training every firefighter and police officer on our force, and as much as double that to train our paramedics.   If even 25% of our public safety personnel leave in the next few years, the cost to recruit and train their replacements could easily exceed $30 million dollars.”

“We are not Detroit.   County tax revenues are expected to increase by $42 million this fiscal year.  While I fully support reducing the county’s unfunded retiree health care liabilities and building a trust fund to cover them, we need to meet these objectives without so devastating our police officers, firefighters and other employees that a large percentage of them quit”, says Conti.  “I ask the County Council to vote against Bill 85-13 Monday night and develop new legislation that isn’t extremely damaging to employees, retirees and the county’s best interests.”

Download a detailed summary of the survey results and the changes incorporated in the final version of Bill 85-13.         

Browse the comments hundreds of survey respondents made about how the bill will impact them

 

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