Howard County Officials Gather to Criticize Pension Shift Plan
Heads of government will discuss how their offices would be affected by the additional financial burden of teacher pension costs.
In a letter to employees two weeks ago, County Executive Ken Ulman said pay cuts and layoffs were in Howard County’s future if the governor’s plan to shift some of the cost of teacher pensions to the counties was instituted.
This morning, heads of the county departments that would see those cuts will join Ulman at an event dubbed the “Stop the Shift” rally. According to a statement from the executive’s office, the leaders will talk about the programs that “could be on the budget ‘chopping block.’”
The gathering is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the the Harper’s Choice Village Center Courtyard, 5485 Harpers Farm Road in Columbia.
In addition to Ulman, are Howard County Police Chief William McMahon, Department of Fire and Rescue Services Chief William Goddard and John Byrd, director of the Department of Recreation and Parks.
According to Ulman, the county would face an additional $17 million financial burden if Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposed FY 2013 budget, which shifts a portion of teacher pension costs from the state to individual counties, is passed.
Also scheduled to attend are representatives from the Howard County Department of Education and Board of Education, including Superintendent Sydney Cousin.
Whether or not the Howard County Public School System would be directly affected by a shift in pension burdens remains to be seen.
Currently, a state “maintenance of effort” mandate requires a certain level of funding be maintained in local schools districts. O’Malley said at a budget presentation that the MOE mandate is "one of the big variables that we still have to work out."
Board of Education members have testified against the governor's proposed budget as well.
Residents and representatives from several different departments spoke out against the shift in front of the Howard County delegates at a hearing last week.
“With county resources already stretched very thinly,” County Council President Mary Kay Sigaty testified, “This will be an obligation impossible to meet.”