Fairfax County board, workers push back on proposed pay plan

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Local,Virginia,Taylor Holland,Fairfax County

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is urging the county's chief administrator to delay -- or even abandon -- a proposed overhaul of the county's pay system after hearing from workers outraged by the plan.

Employee groups on Tuesday blasted County Executive Ed Long's plan to retool the county's "financially unsustainable" payroll system, an overhaul that Long said could save the county as much as $30 million a year.

Long's plan gives county employees a cost-of-living raise in odd-numbered years and a performance-based raise in even-numbered years. Currently, employees are eligible for both raises each year.

Long intended to include the pay overhaul as part of his 2014 budget proposal, which he will submit Tuesday. But the proposal has set off a barrage of criticism from county workers, who say the changes will reduce their salaries and pensions.

"You're halving the current plan that people signed up for," said Randy Creller, chairman of the county's Employees Advisory Council. "We don't believe we should rush to judgment with this."

Several County Board members cited employee opposition in calling on Long to delay the implementation of the pay changes.

"I don't believe we should be doing this during the budget cycle," said Supervisor John Cook, R-Braddock. "We've got a hard budget, and to be doing this at the same time ... puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on us."

Cook said the board should not consider the proposed pay changes until after it approves its budget in April.

County Board members also questioned whether the payroll changes would make it more difficult for the county to attract and retain workers. The county's pay system should be "hopefully better but at least comparable" to those of neighboring jurisdictions, said Supervisor Gerry Hyland, D-Mount Vernon.

But Supervisor Jeff McKay, D-Lee, questioned whether there was even a need for a payroll overhaul.

"I'm not really convinced that we need to go down this path at all," McKay said. "History shows that even in bad times we've done pretty well."

tholland@washingtonexaminer.com

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