Bowdon has joined two other Carroll governments in granting hazard pay to employees on the front line during the coronavirus pandemic.
City Manager Gary Bullock said during Monday night’s virtual city council meeting that the pay would be an additional $100 a week for each employee. The cost to the city would be up to $25,000 and the pay will last no more than 10 weeks.
The city council unanimously approved Bullock’s proposal after City Councilman Noah Steed asked whether there would be any liability risks. City officials will use money from the water and sewer fund for the hazard pay.
“On behalf of all city employees, ‘thank you,’” Bullock said. “Because this is hazardous pay, it qualifies for reimbursement and we would make an application for that reimbursement.”
City Attorney David Mecklin said there would be no legal problems because many local governments across the state have approved hazard pay for their employees during the health crisis.
“We were $40,000 out of shape with our budget last year,” Steed said. “When I say, ‘out of shape,’ I mean off our budget. As far as our total impact, this will not be our only impact.”
Bullock was referring to the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and its Coronavirus Relief Fund. Under the CARES Act, the $150 billion fund was established to be used by local governments for workforce bonuses such as hazard pay and overtime, according to a document from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
The CARES Act provides payments from the fund that can be used only for necessary expenditures due to the public health emergency and coronavirus pandemic. These expenses qualify if they were not accounted for and were incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30, 2020.
On March 24, the Carroll County Board of Health entered an emergency order imposing certain requirements and “shelter in place” rules. The Bowdon City Council adopted those rules on the same day.
The hazard pay will be post-dated to the start of the shelter-in-place order.
Bullock said the city will not be reimbursed for any lost revenue during the pandemic and he added a lot of this lost funding stems from the recreation department.
That’s because there are no more gymnastic or football fees coming in, and the baseball and softball fees were refunded to parents for the year. The franchise and local option sales tax revenues are also being depleted, he added.
The move comes after Carrollton and Carroll County officials gave hazard pay to employees impacted by the virus in the last two months. Temple officials are considering granting hazard pay to the city’s front line workers, while Villa Rica has not discussed the extra pay.
On March 23, one day before the Carroll County Board of Commissioners imposed a shelter-at-home order, Carrollton City employees were granted 10 weeks of hazard pay. City Manager Tim Grizzard noted at the time that the move was made by the city’s management and elected officials “to show their appreciation” to city workers performing essential jobs during the pandemic.
On April 15, the Carroll County commissioners approved additional pay for county employees. Any front-line employee working full time was to receive a one-time check of $400, while part-time workers on the frontline would receive a $200 bonus.
As of April 30, Temple officials were looking at granting hazard pay to city workers. But a memo written by City Manager William Osborne did not specify how much these employees would receive or from where in the budget the additional pay would be drawn.