June 25, 2022
By: Dwayne Page
Full and part time county employees may soon be getting premium pay (bonuses) for their service during the height of the pandemic from American Rescue Plan Act funds.
The proposal to pay these bonuses using ARP money will be presented to the county commission for final approval during Monday night’s regular monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Mike Foster Multi-Purpose Center.
The budget committee earlier this month voted to recommend to the county commission that full time county general employees each get a bonus of $2,500 and that part time staff each receive $1,250. Although they too are county employees, the proposal did not include the current 26 workers of the DeKalb County Highway Department nor the current 400 employees of DeKalb County School District. The Highway Department and School System, along with the County General operation which includes courthouse, sheriff’s department, county complex, solid waste department employees, offices of most elected and appointed county officials, libraries, senior center directors, etc. all operate under the umbrella of county government, but each (Highway Department, School System, County General) have their own separate budgets, subject to approval by the county commission. Originally, the budget committee specified that in order to get the full $2,500 bonus, county general employees must have worked for the county at any time during the fifteen-and-a-half-month period of March 13, 2020 to June 30, 2021 and they must still be employed by the county. However they revised the proposal last Wednesday, June 22 in one respect and that is to prorate the pay for full time employees who only worked a portion of the fifteen-and-a-half-month period or for those who went from working part time to full time or vice versa. Employees who work for more than one county department would not be allowed to double dip on bonus pay.
The proposal specifies that part time EMS staff must have worked a minimum of 400 hours to get the part time bonus pay of $1,250. All other part timers must have put in at least 250 hours during the fifteen-and-a-half-month period. Twenty-nine volunteer firefighters who met the criteria would get a bonus.
Firefighters who made 75% training attendance would qualify for a $300 bonus and those with 100% training attendance would receive a $350 bonus for the period from March 13, 2020 to June 30, 2021. Two county funded employees and eight employed by the state at the DeKalb County Health Department would also be included in the ARP bonus plan.
During a committee meeting of the whole Thursday night, members of the county commission requested that employees of the DeKalb County Highway Department and volunteers of the non-profit Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad who meet the requirements also be included in the ARP bonus plan proposal, subject to approval by the full commission.
Road Supervisor Danny Hale Thursday night asked the county commission that his staff not be left out.
“We didn’t get any relief from nowhere. We (highway department employees) worked every day (during the pandemic). We would like to have something,” said Road Supervisor Danny Hale.
“We (budget committee) did not intentionally leave anyone out. We were just following the pattern of what counties around us had done,” said budget committee member Anita Puckett.