Even if one were to buy the union logic that Montgomery County employees deserve catch-up salary increases that were scrapped after the recession, reasonable observers would have to conclude that those raises — as much as 9.4 percent — are unsustainable [“Montgomery County’s raises come at a steep price,” editorial, March 26]. No one (public or private) gets back pay for wages cut in a recession.
This will cost $29 million in fiscal 2020 and $39 million every year thereafter, with no obvious way to pay for it. Since 2014, employee raises in Montgomery have doubled the rate of inflation and outpaced those in Fairfax County government 5.5 percent to 2.41 percent. Montgomery County employees have been dining very well at the public banquet table. Just weeks ago, County Executive Marc Elrich (D) instructed his agencies to make painful cuts totaling $49 million. Add to that Maryland’s estimate of $80 million less in revenue for Montgomery this year and next. Yet, in a seeming payback to the unions that backed his election, Mr. Elrich is offering fat labor contracts by raiding underfunded retiree health funds. Which raises the question: Should the county executive even be negotiating with the very unions that funded his election?
With growth slowing and new businesses increasingly opting for Northern Virginia, the new county council must stand up for all county residents — not special interests — and reject these above-market wage increases and apply its energies to growing the tax base.
Charles K. Nulsen, Bethesda
The writer is co-founder of Empower Montgomery.