Amherst police, 1

Amherst Police Chief Bobby Shiflett stands in front of the recently opened Amherst Police Station on West Court Street. The department moved into the building, a former restaurant, in January 2020. 

Amherst Town Council voted at its June 10 meeting to approve a new policy that authorizes supplemental hazard pay for employees who are subject to working in hazardous conditions during a declared state of emergency.

The policy would apply to the Town of Amherst Police Department during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Town Manager Sara Carter. The money would come from $193,000 in federal money from the CARES Act, as part of a package Congress passed to offset the many effects of COVID-19, the town is slated to receive.

“There’s very limited things we can spend it on,” Carter said.

The money can’t be used to cover revenue losses or personnel costs unless duties have substantially changed to respond directly to the crisis, she said. Three areas the town is focusing on using the money for are reimbursement for direct expenses from the virus such as personal protective equipment, cleaning and a equipment so employees can work from home, hazard pay for police officers still daily interacting with the public during the pandemic and grants for small businesses that lost money from the crisis.

The majority of the CARES money is targeted for business grants, and she will bring back more details to council on ways to spend the federal money in July, she said.

The current pandemic applies to such emergencies and the additional money for hazard pay is not for duties under conditions that are a regular part or hazard of town employee’s job, the policy states. Council’s vote to approve the hazard pay policy was unanimous, with Councilman Kenneth Bunch absent.

The town still has many questions, especially on how the hazard pay applies, on the federal relief money and is working with Amherst County officials on using it, Carter said.

Amherst County’s board of supervisors also recently used federal relief money from COVID-19 to pay emergency services workers who daily come in contact with the public in responding to 911 calls.

Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.

Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.

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