FENWICK ISLAND – Town officials last week elected to use a portion of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to give each employee $1,500 in hazard pay.
Last Friday, the Fenwick Island Town Council voted unanimously to give each of the town’s eligible employees $1,500 in hazard paid made available through ARPA funding.
Mayor Vicki Carmean noted that the town had received $120,000 in local fiscal recovery funds last year and is set to receive another $120,000 in the coming months.
“The program ensures that governments have the resources needed to fight the pandemic, maintain vital public services and build a strong, resilient and equitable recovery,” she said.
With $61,000 of that money already spent on backflow preventer valves, air filters and cleaning services, Carmean said she was recommending some of the remaining funds be used to pay town staff.
“This particular program also has a section, a hazard pay and premium pay provision …,” she said. “We feel our employees are entitled to this hazard pay. So I would like to propose that we pay each of the eligible employees $1,500 as part of the COVID hazard pay program.”
Carmean said town employees have regularly interacted with members of the public since town hall first reopened in September 2021. Councilwoman Natalie Magdeburger added that staff were also faced with a COVID outbreak.
“As a result of being exposed to the public, we actually had an outbreak of COVID,” she said. “During that time period, it was very stressful … I think this is a well-deserved and well-thought-out use of funding that is designed to support those that came to work and dealt with the public to make sure that government runs.”
“We’ve got 14 employees, and the COVID rate was over 50%,” she added. “It didn’t make any difference if they had vaccines or not, they got COVID.”
Councilman Bill Rymer, the town’s treasurer, said he supported the idea.
“It’s a good idea and in line with what the government allows under ARPA,” he said.
After further discussion, the council voted 7-0 to approve the $1,500 in hazard pay to each eligible employee.
“We have a skeleton staff,” Carmean said. “When one got sick, someone else had to do double duty. It was not easy.”
Town Manager Pat Schuchman thanked council members for their recognition.
“On behalf of the police department, public works and administrative staff, thank you very much,” she said. “It’s a good feeling to know you guys recognized the work we did at a risk of our own families.”