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Some Pulaski County employees get one-time $1,200 bump for pandemic work

by Teresa Moss | November 29, 2021 at 7:20 a.m.
FILE - The Pulaski County administration building in downtown Little Rock is shown in this 2019 file photo.

Pulaski County employees who worked throughout the pandemic will receive a $1,200 one-time payment, according to an ordinance approved last week by the Quorum Court.

The premium payments will be made through the American Rescue Plan Act fund and will be effective Dec 3.

The payment will go to essential employees who have worked full time since the pandemic started. Those who worked 100% remotely during the pandemic are ineligible under the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

Steve Brummett, director of public works, said his employees have seen a stressful couple years and deserve the extra pay. He oversees the departments of road and bridge, the office of emergency management, sanitation, animal control and planning and development.

"Essential services can't quit, so we never missed a day," Brummett said.

It was hard on some families at the start because children were at home while schools were closed, he said. Rules on social distancing and masks also meant reworking the way some jobs were done.

"I can't say enough how proud I am of my guys," Brummett said. "They just did it and didn't complain. We had a job to do, and they just did it."

The $1,200 check is something a lot of employees will appreciate, he said.

"That is going to make a big difference for a lot of them right before Christmas," he said. "Who wouldn't want a little extra cash?"

The ordinance originally went before the Quorum Court as a $1,000 one-time payment but an amendment brought by Justice of the Peace Lillie McMullen increased the payment to $1,200 during Tuesday's Quorum Court meeting.

"It is a well-known fact not all of them, but many of the county employees, could certainly benefit from that," McMullen said Wednesday. "The salaries in Pulaski County are not very competitive at all compared with many other salaries."

The extra $200 will still come from the American Rescue Plan Act fund, McMullen said.

"It really does not affect our budget," she said. "I don't think anyone who has been keeping up with the news should be appalled with providing our employees with financial assistance."

Not everyone on the Quorum Court felt the same way. Three voted no to the motion, including Phil Stowers, Doug Reed and Luke McCoy. Aaron Robinson and Paul Elliott abstained.

Stowers supported the original ordinance vocally during the meeting but did not support the amendment.

"It wasn't necessarily the money, as the principal of the matter," Stowers said.

He said it would have been easier to agree with the amendment if research had been done before Tuesday night by McMullen.

Comptroller Michael Hutchens didn't have time to prepare what the extra costs to the county would be, Stowers said.

"I couldn't vote for something when we didn't even know what the cost was," Stowers said.

A cost of $1.3 million was expected if the payment was at $1,000.

Hutchens said he likely wouldn't be able to figure out the exact costs with the pay bumped to $1,200 until this week.

Stowers said he received reports Wednesday that the additional cost would be about a quarter of a million dollars.

"I was supportive of it," Stowers said. "However, they lost my support when they added an unwritten amendment that had no financial analysis to it."

CORRECTION: An ordinance approved last week by Pulaski County’s Quorum Court to provide a premium payment of $1,000 to employees who worked throughout the pandemic would have cost $1.3 million, but was amended to $1,200 payments with an unknown cost at the time. The premium payment amount was incorrect in a previous version of this story.

Print Headline: JPs approve pandemic pay


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