County Pledges to Undertake Benchmarking Study Within a Month at Councilman Weiner's Urgings
Lacking any support from my fellow County Council members, I was still able to secure a victory for all taxpayers, by obtaining a pledge from the County to undertake a benchmarking study within a month’s time in exchange for dropping my doomed resolutions. The County budget deficit cannot be fixed solely on the backs of the taxpayers. I voted against the tax increase, which passed 9-4. Thank you for your support.
Warm regards, Bob Weiner, your Republican County Councilman
Weiner drops NCCO pay resolutions
Says changes to merit pay "steps" have "zero" support on County Council
Update 5:18 pm
By ANGIE BASIOUNY
The News Journal
Dozens of New Castle County employees who planned to arrive in buses for tonight's County Council budget meeting will have wasted the trip.
Councilman Robert Weiner, a Republican sponsoring resolutions that could restructure worker pay, said today he is withdrawing the measures because he has "zero support" from fellow council members.
"These resolutions are not necessarily the solution, but they are intended to start a dialogue," Weiner said. "I believe that I've been successful in engaging everyone in the discussion of salaries."
At issue are three resolutions urging the county to restructure its pay system to eliminate or reduce merit raises, or spread the raises over a longer period of time.
Weiner said he wanted to explore the idea because salaries and wages account for nearly two-thirds of the county's operating budget.
Virtually all of the county's 1,657 employees are covered by union contracts that prevent layoffs while offering 3 percent annual cost-of-living raises. In addition, county law sets up pay grades that carry 5 percent step increases for the first 10 years for employees who pass their performance evaluations.
That means county workers who start at the bottom step get an increase of 8 percent a year for the first 10 years of employment.
Cindy U. Williams, president of Local 1607, a union representing technical workers, said the contracts also mean employees' pay is often frozen after they complete the steps.
"I was frozen for nine years," she said. "I only got what the union got us."
She said this year 45 percent of the employees in her union have hit the last step, and that number will climb to 59 percent next year. They get only the annual percentage increase.
Williams and other union representatives said they wished they had known Weiner was backing off sooner. The employees rented two buses to bring them to the meeting to protest.
"The buses are already paid for," Williams said.
Council is set to vote tonight on the proposed $230 million operating budget and $58 million capital budget. In a separate vote, council will decide whether to pass a 5 percent property tax increase that would raise an addition $3.2 million in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Louis L. Redding City/County Building, 800 N. French St., Wilmington.
Find complete coverage Wecdnesday in The News Journal and at delawareonline.com.
Contact Angie Basiouny at 324-2796 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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