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For County Government, One Vacation Just Isn't Enough



July 27, 2010

Have you ever wondered how to extend your vacation? The answer, surprisingly, is to work for the Montgomery County (MD) government. County Executive Isiah Leggett has just announced that county government employees will receive additional paid vacation days that total to more than 100 years. Actually, 117 years to be exact if all of the 87,000 government employees take their new vacation hours that range from 26 for general government and police officers to 48 for firefighters. While Leggett claims that this is a cost cutting measure, it is actually part of a deal with the unions who were upset with recent budget cuts.  But cutting a deal with the unions will have a price that rivals some of the "cuts" in the recent $4.27 billion budget. The County Council's Office of Legislative Oversight estimates the new comp days are valued at around $7 million. After all the hand wringing to close a $1 billion shortfall, where's the Council's concerns for this new $7 million cost?

These new comp days create the ultimate lose-lose dilemma. If the employees take these new days along with their vacation, then there will be a significant decrease in the services received per government expenditure. However, if the employees take these days in lieu of their vacation then they can log their vacation time and cash in later.  This option creates a "newly accrued liability assumed by the County and will eventually result in the direct expenditure of public dollars," according to the Office of Legislative Oversight. There are other, better ways to save tax dollars, such as reducing spending on wasteful programs and reforming the tax code to foster economic growth. Hopefully, County Executive Leggett will think about better ways to save taxpayers' money while he is on vacation this summer. If not, overburdened taxpayers may consider giving Leggett and other spendthrift members of the Montgomery County Council a much longer vacation come the next Election Day.


 

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