A majority of members on the Montgomery County council voted Tuesday to create a two-tiered retirement system for police and many other county workers that would replace the current one-size-fits-all arrangement.
The 5 to 1 vote was taken on the committee level, and the full nine-member council must still weigh in, likely next month. But it marked a significant milestone for a bill first proposed in 2008 by council member Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville) following a critical examination of the disability retirement system by the county’s inspector general.
If passed, the final legislation, long opposed by the police union, would take effect in July 2012, and only for on-the-job injuries sustained from that point forward. It would create two levels: partial disability, at 52.5 percent of salary; and full disability, at 70 percent of salary. Currently, disabled police officers and many other county workers get 66.66 percent of their salary, whether they are considered partially or totally incapacitated.
The vast majority of disability applications are for partial incapacity, Andrews said, adding that the inspector general found an unusually high percentage of county police were retiring on disability. “Having a significantly lower benefit for partial disability will result in fewer applications,” Andrews said. The legislation would save an estimated $2.7 million a year, he said.
Councilmember Marc Elrich (D-At Large) voted against recommending that the full council approve the bill.
County firefighters are already subject to the two-tiered system.