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June 20, 2011

Teachers’ Contract and Tax Credits

Michael Kurtianyk

Here are the highlights of the tentative agreement, according to the Frederick County Teachers Association website:


The Board of Education pays 1.5% of the 2% increase to the employee contribution to the pension system for the 2011-12 school year.


Insurance rates and all employees’ out-of-pocket expenses for benefits remain unchanged for the 2011-12 school year (for the 4th year in a row).


Spouses of employees who pass away can continue to receive insurance through the FCPS self-insurance plan.


Addition of one personal day (from 2 to 3 per year) for members of our bargaining unit.


FCTA is allowed to charge a $200 fee to non-FCTA members per Sick Leave Bank Grant Request (to pay for the administrative costs incurred by FCTA in the management of the Bank).


Increase in the maximum grant for Family Crisis Leave from 50 to 60 days.


Administrators required to communicate the status of student disciplinary actions within 2 work days upon teacher request.


3 year agreement on contract language, salary and benefit language for one year only.


Considering our tough economy, of course, the best employees can hope for is to not lose their jobs. The teachers (of which my wife is one) have had a salary freeze since 2008, and they continue to do their best to educate our children. I applaud Teachers’ Association President Gary Brennan and all of his efforts in working on behalf of the union.


Now let’s see if Lincoln Elementary gets finished. The delays by the Frederick County Board of Education on bids, and then all the unnecessary requests for rebidding, only hurts the children. The school is schedule to re-open in the fall of 2012, but at some point, a decision needs to be made on the bids and then we can all move on.


* * * * * * * * *

At Winchester Hall, the commissioners voted 4-1 (Blaine Young opposed) to approve tax credits to companies that open or expand their existing space by at least 5,000 square feet and hire at least 25 new full-time employees. This credit would apply only to the new space that is used.


This tax credit would be valid for six years and would start off at 52 percent for the first and second year, drop to 39 percent for the third and fourth year, then finish at 26 percent in the fifth and sixth year. The tax credit would then expire, and the business would have to pay the full rate of 93.6 cents per $100 of assessed value.


However, in order to receive this tax credit, businesses need to open at or expand by at least 250,000 square feet of space, continue to employ 2,500 people, and hire at least 500 new workers. This is the issue that drew Commissioner Young negative vote. He said that this does nothing for small businesses


Well, okay, but doesn’t it do something for bigger businesses? And, if so, would this not create new jobs right here in Frederick County? Why oppose it if it means more jobs?


In order for it to work for small businesses, the commissioners must ask the eight-member county delegation to the General Assembly to introduce legislation to make it work for small businesses. Maybe Commissioner Young will do so on his own this fall for small businesses. Maybe he won’t. We’ll see.


This tax credit though, for bigger businesses, should have been approved.


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