Amherst County’s employees are cleared to receive a $500 bonus, a one-time measure the county’s board of supervisors narrowly approved by a 3-2 vote on Jan. 5.
The measure, which cost $96,356, follows a decision last month to pick up the remaining balance for Amherst County sheriff’s deputies who were given a bonus by the state’s Compensation Board. The board’s $7,535 contribution toward the deputies’ bonuses ensure all officers would receive them. The bonuses apply to those employed under the umbrella of county government and not the Amherst County Public Schools division.
Supervisor Tom Martin asked County Administrator Dean Rodgers to look into extending the bonus for county employees, particularly those in public safety. The board’s 3-2 vote to provide the $500 bonus for county workers, which Chair Jennifer Moore and Vice Chair David Pugh opposed, covers the balance from the county’s unobligated general fund, which is at $5.3 million.
Martin thanked all county staff for their work and said the bonus is a small token of the board’s appreciation.
“I want to commend especially our public safety personnel for the amount of work that they have done over the past year dealing with COVID-19 issues and that they are continuing to deal with on a very much more frequent basis,” Martin said.
Martin added: “I also think it’s important to let our staff know they are appreciated.”
Pugh pointed to the board in the current 2020-21 budget taking steps to give employees a 2% pay raise, boosting starting salary pay for law enforcement and public safety in response to the need to retain those jobs and salary adjustments that boosted pay that brought many employees’ salaries to market average levels.
“I felt this spring we took care of our employees very well,” Pugh said of the board’s budget decisions on compensating workers. “I think we’ve done a tremendous job of signifying our support for our employees.”
Board members Claudia Tucker and Jimmy Ayers, who supported awarding the bonuses, did not join in the discussion.
“I think that our employees, or at least I would hope that our employees feel we appreciate them by us looking at their compensation this past year,” Moore said. “And my heart says yes, I want to give all employees bonuses and that type of thing, but in this case I think the [$96,356] should go toward tools and equipment to make their jobs easier.”