One of two non-bargaining personnel polices approved

Montgomery County legislators have approved one of two proposed personnel policies for non-bargaining employees.

At Tuesday’s meeting, legislators voted in favor of a policy covering full-time appointed officials and department heads, but voted to table a second policy covering part-time and full-time elected officials, including legislators themselves.

District 7 Legislator Barbara Wheeler, chair of the Legislature’s Personnel Committee, originally crafted a single policy covering all non-bargaining county employees, which was passed in October 2014 but vetoed by County Executive Matthew Ossenfort because it contained two controversial provisions–health insurance for part-time employees, including legislators, and stipends for chairs of legislative committees. Wheeler had removed those two items from the policy, but an amendment proposed by District 2 Legislator Thomas Quackenbush restored the provisions. Tuesday night, Wheeler presented two separate policies.

“We split it up for a reason,” Wheeler said Tuesday, referring to the dispute over insurance and stipends.

Both proposed policies provide specific rules as to the work day and work week, pay periods, mileage allowances, holidays, insurance, retirement, longevity increments, and availability of employee assistance programs.

District 4 Legislator Ryan Weitz said the policy covering elected officials wasn’t ready.

“This [proposed policy] could use some work,” Weitz said. “Right now we treat some elected officials one way and some another way. We have time to address this [before November’s election].”

After several minutes of discussion on the policy for elected officials, District 8 Legislator Joseph M. Isabel moved to call the question, which would have cut off debate and forced an immediate vote. No legislator seconded his motion. Quackenbush then moved to table the resolution. His motion received a second and then passed by a 5-4 vote; Wheeler, Weitz, Isabel and District 3 Legislator Roy Dimond voted no.

Legislators will have to vote at their next meeting to remove the policy covering elected officials from the table, which would re-open debate.

The policy for elected officials applies to the sheriff, county executive, district attorney, county clerk and county treasurer, all of whom are full-time, and the head coroner, coroner, chair of the legislature and legislators, all of whom are part-time. Under the proposal, full-time elected officials would pay 15 percent of the cost of health insurance as well as a $25 co-pay for each claim. Part-time elected officials would be offered health insurance at the full premium rate. The policy also sets salaries for legislators at $10,000 each, and the chairman of the legislature at $15,000, but does not include stipends for chairs of legislative committees.

John Becker

John Becker is both a Reporter and Consulting Editor for The Compass. He and his wife Pat operate Abbey Farms in Amsterdam NY.