The Douglas County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 Tuesday evening to pass a resolution that will give a $200 bonus per pay period for front-line workers.
District 1 County Commissioner Henry Mitchell cast the lone no vote. Mitchell said his vote doesn’t signal that he is against the county’s first responders.
In a phone interview Wednesday afternoon, Mitchell said he was more in favor of providing equipment for the first responders during this global crisis.
Mitchell said he would have favored providing protective equipment like gloves, masks, sanitizer and test kits to the front-line workers.
“I was in favor of providing them with ways to protect themselves and family,” Mitchell said. “Their job is already hazardous. I was looking at more of a needs assessment. Giving you a dollar doesn’t protect you or your family from this virus.”
The sheriff’s office, 911 dispatchers, coroner’s office, fire department, animal shelter and landfill workers were included in the hazardous pay resolution as long as they work between March 16 through May 13.
Under the resolution, 557 county employees will receive the bonus pay, which totaled $539,649, with $337,158 coming out the budget’s general fund.
“I think it is important that we take care of those that are on the front line for us,” District 4 Commissioner Ann Guider said during the meeting.
“We as a Board of Commissioners are looking at a budget,” Mitchell said Wednesday. “We are in trouble with money, and the county is only adding more tensions.”
Since the county doesn’t have a hazardous ordinance, it is not eligible to get reimbursed for the money for the bonus pay approved by the BOC on Tuesday.
If the money had gone to equipment for the employees, Mitchell said the county could have recouped the funds through federal grants.
“I love my county and employees, but I was looking out for what’s down the line,” Mitchell said. “The steps that we are taking now will come back. I promise you that the millage rate will become a talking point as we move forward with a budget.”
During two earlier meetings by the BOC, Guider had mentioned how the county was facing budget problems and wanted the list that was submitted by department supervisors to be more scrutinized.
During a called meeting last week, the list had 547 employees from various departments. The list grew to 552 when the commissioners met again.
The final list that was introduced at Tuesday’s meeting was at 557 as the sheriff’s office and fire department added names.
Guider had argued that some employees didn’t fit the criteria of coming in contact with the public while others hadn’t worked since the shelter in place order took effect from the state’s governor.
Other municipalities across the state have given their first responders and front-line workers hazardous bonuses during this global crisis.
City leaders in Douglasville are expected to take up a measure for their front-line workers during next week’s meeting.