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Hagerstown City Council gives full-time city employees $1,000 bonuses

November 25, 2011|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com

City employees received a little bit of holiday cheer earlier this week from the Hagerstown City Council.

The council Tuesday voted 5-0 to give full-time city employees $1,000 bonuses — a decision that Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said would cost the city about $444,000.

He said the bonuses were given as a way to thank the employees, who among other things, took 10 furlough days last year that decreased their average annual salaries by 3.8 percent.

The employees also haven't received step increases in three years or cost-of-living allowances in four years.

"They've given up a lot of benefits to save the city money during these tough economic times, and they haven't complained about it," Bruchey said. "There's the same amount of work, but fewer employees to do it."

Councilwoman Ashley C. Haywood said Wednesday that  employees took on the extra duties from 56 eliminated and unfunded positions last year.

"That is stressful on folks," Haywood said. "I think it's not only important to reward them for it ... but to show we appreciate it."

She also praised the employees for sticking around during tough economic times, not knowing whether they would still have jobs the next day.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he voted for the bonuses because the employees have sacrificed a great deal over the last several years.

"They increased their workload," he said. "We thought it was appropriate to show them we appreciate what they've done."

He said that although the decision to give the bonuses was costly, it was nothing compared to what the city would have paid had the employees continued to receive their previous benefits.

Councilman Martin E. Brubaker said the city's cost-saving measures have added up over the last four years.

He said the fiscal 2012 budget lists $2.9 million less in wages and benefits than the budget for fiscal 2008.

"We have cut government despite having to provide the services," Brubaker said. "I think (the employees') efforts have been outstanding in light of the pressures of position and budget reductions."

Brubaker said income and Social Security taxes would be taken from the bonuses.

Employees are to receive their bonuses on Monday, City Clerk Donna Spickler said.

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