- The Washington Times - Monday, May 26, 2003

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — The Anne Arundel County Council recently reached a budget deal that includes pay freezes for nearly all county employees, dealing a double whammy to the more than 600 married couples who are two county workers.

The Claypool family of five is expecting a $5,000 hit. And, after tallying their lost merit, educational and cost-of-living increases, the Derlinks say they will earn $12,500 less than they had planned.

County officials say there are about 120 such couples among departments such as fire, police and public works, and about 500 in the school system.

For Ken and Pam Claypool, a county firefighter and a police booking officer, respectively, the county’s pay freeze also freezes their ability to save for their 16-year-old daughter’s college education.

“The money that we’re not going to get is the money that afforded us to do things like that,” Mrs. Claypool, 40, said. The couple also has 5-year-old twins, Samantha and Zachary.

A relatively new county employee, Mrs. Claypool said she is due in September for a 69-cent-per-hour step increase, to $14.61 per hour. That adds up to just less than $1,500 a year.

Her husband, a firefighter for 17 years, said he is in line for a $3,200 merit increase to his $60,000-per-year salary.

“We just want what was due to us,” Mr. Claypool said, “like anybody would.”

Teachers Jill and Jake Derlink estimate that their salaries would have jumped from a combined $87,600 to about $100,000, thanks to expected cost-of-living, step and educational-credit increases.

She is a kindergarten teacher at Crofton Meadows, and he is a special-education teacher at Chesapeake High School. They live in Crofton, and have a son in kindergarten and a daughter who will be a kindergartner next year.

To help pay for their lifestyle, Mrs. Derlink said, her husband works at a fly-fishing store, and teaches fly-fishing courses and summer school. He had been planning to scale back or even quit those two jobs, but now he will continue with them, she said.

Mrs. Derlink said she believed that the county would find a way to fund raises for its employees. She said she was shocked when she learned that the county made good on its warning of a pay freeze.

“I truly believed it was just talk,” she said.

The county fire union president, Keith Wright, said couples such as the Derlinks and Claypools are in good company.

“Everybody’s suffering,” he said.

Mr. Wright’s wife, Lisa, is a county schoolteacher. They, too, are expecting their first child this year. Although he is at the top of the pay scale, Mrs. Wright was in line for a 5 percent merit increase. That would have provided $2,500 to help finish the nursery in their Severna Park home.

“Instead, we’ll both be standing still this year,” Mr. Wright said, “like everyone else.”

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