County Council signals approval of wage increases for county employees

Montgomery County Council unanimously backed collective bargaining agreements for county employees on Tuesday, including increases for first responders and general workers.

Craig Howard, the council’s deputy director, said in an interview that the council is required to act on collective bargaining agreements with county unions by May 1 as part of the county’s budget approval process for the next fiscal year, which begins in July. 1. The financial implications of the agreements will not come into effect until the council has voted on the overall budget, which will take place in the coming weeks, he added.

As part of the collective bargaining agreements – which cover approximately two years – council members have shown support for raises for career and county volunteer firefighters, police officers and thousands of other employees in various parts of the county government.

Generally speaking, annual salary increases will be in the thousands of dollars for each employee. County officials cited the need for higher wages to show appreciation to county employees and first responders, especially during the stress of the coronavirus pandemic.

For police officers, represented by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35, salaries will increase by 3.5% beginning in July 2022 and another 3% in January 2023. According to council staff documents, this would increase the starting annual salary for police officers at $58,510 in July and $60,265 in January.

County career firefighters – represented by the Montgomery County Career Fire Fighters Association, IAFF Local 1664 – will see a 4% pay increase in October and an additional 1% in January 2023. This means that the starting salary of a firefighter would be $51,664 in October and $52,181 in January.

Other county employees — represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1944 MCGEO — would receive a range of raises depending on where they work. For example, higher-level seasonal workers would see a 50-cent increase in their hourly wage starting in July and another 50-cent increase in June 2023.

Several other positions in county government — including bus operators, deputy sheriffs and corrections officers — would receive an annual salary increase of $4,333, starting in June 2023.

Collective agreements also provide pay increases for employees who meet longevity requirements, that is, those who have spent many years working for the county government.

Council members are expected to continue deliberations on the proposed budget in the coming weeks. The county charter requires the council to approve a budget by June 1.

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steve.bohnel@bethesdamagazine.com