The Arlington County Police Union and the Arlington Police Beneficiary Association, the organizations that represent a majority of Arlington County Police Department employees, strongly oppose the cuts in employee compensation that were announced by the County Board late Wednesday night. These cuts represent a violation of the County's professed commitment to core services and to being an "Employer of Choice."
The cuts announced last night fly in the face of Board Chairman Jay Fisette's statement that the FY 2015 budget is "focused on…maintaining our core services." This rings hollow when the $6.6 million budget reduction falls squarely on the backs of police officers, firefighters, bus drivers, customer service agents and custodians—the very people responsible for delivering the high-quality, world-class services the County Board is right to be proud of.
Not only is this budget cut targeting employees in one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S., it also was made at the 11th hour, outside of Arlington's well-accepted and long-established budget process and after the last opportunity for public comment. Throughout the FY 2015 budget process (which started in September 2013), neither the County Board nor the County Manager made any mention of freezing the merit pay system. In fact, County Manager Barbara Donnellan's March 25th public presentation on the proposed budget highlighted a "Focus on the Long-Term Strategy to Keep Arlington Competitive" and promised a "Commitment to Employees."
This commitment was to be demonstrated by budgeting for the merit pay system but apparently something changed in the last three weeks. While the employee organizations recognize that there is concern in the community about several highly controversial and expensive projects, the budget cuts announced last night do nothing to address these issues. Instead, the County Board elected to cut compensation for the employees who make the County government work.
FY 2015 Budget Timeline
- Sept 2013 Kickoff of FY 2015 budget process. No mention of cuts to merit pay system.
- Oct-Nov 2013 Departments submit budgets. No mention of cuts to merit pay system.
- Dec 2013-Jan 2014 County Manager develops budget recommendations. No mention of cuts to merit pay system.
- Feb 22 2014 County Manager submits proposed FY 2015 budget to County Board. No mention of cuts to merit pay system.
- Feb-Apr 2014 County Board holds budget work sessions. No mention of cuts to merit pay system.
- March 25 2014 County Board holds public hearing on proposed FY 2015 budget, includes funding for merit pay system. No mention of cuts to merit pay system.
- March 27 2014 County Board holds public hearing on proposed taxes and fees. (Final public hearing on proposed FY 2015 budget.) No mention of cuts to merit pay system.
- April 16 2014 County Board issues late-night press release announcing cuts to merit pay system six days before the Board is scheduled to vote on adopting the budget.(10:30 PM)