The Montgomery County personnel board earlier this week recommended to the County Council that retirement benefits for the county's public safety personnel should not be changed.
The county's police officers, firefighters, correction officers and deputy sherrifs earlier this year had obtained County Executive James P. Gleason's backing for a plan which would have allowed them to retire after 20 years of service at 40 per cent of their final year's salary.
However, the three-member personnel board, which is appointed by the council, said in its memo to council chairman John Menke "The board believes that the prospect of losing well-trained and experienced personnel at a time when they can make a maximum contribution is a . . . compelling argument to retain the present formula."
Currently, police offices and firefighters are eligible for retirement after 25 years of service at 50 per cent of their final year's salary. Under the proposed plan, if they served beyond 20 years, they would gain additional retirement benefits at the rate of 2 per cent per year, as do those officers who now serve beyond 25 years.
The board also noted that changing the retirement plan as the public safety personnel wished would would increase the county's annual benefits bill by $3.6 million.
"We're disappointed," said Police Sgt. Bernard Gillespie, when told of the memo. "But we still feel we have a good chance with the council," which must make the final decision on the matter.
Gillespie, who is president of the Police Association, to which 600 of the county's approximately 800 police officers belong, also noted, "There seems to be some kind of argument going on between Mr. Gleason and the personnel board - over other things than this, too."
Council chairman Menke had not read the letter and therefore would not comment on the issue.
However, Charles Maier, an aide to County Executive Gleason, said that the council rarely, if ever, has overruled a recommendation by the three-member personnel board.