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City of Hagerstown to pay employees one-time bonus

Full-time employees will get $1,000; part-time employees to get $200

March 26, 2013|By HOLLY SHOK | holly.shok@herald-mail.com

The City of Hagerstown’s full-time employees will receive a one-time payment of $1,000 and part timers will receive $200 in June following the unanimous approval of the five-member city council Tuesday.

“The employees haven’t received many of the benefits they deserve, thanks to the drastic economic situation we’ve been through,” Councilman Donald F. Munson said at the Hagerstown City Council meeting.

“I’m voting for this, supporting this, because I believe it is at least a way city government can say thank you for the efforts you have made.”

The city’s extension of one-time payments to 411 full timers and 39 part timers stem from frozen wages over the past few years.

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According to a March 5 memo to the mayor and city council from Michelle Burker, the city’s director of finance, and Bruce Zimmerman, city administrator, by the conclusion of fiscal year 2013 on June 30, four years will have passed since city employees have received a cost-of-living wage increase and three years since step-increase adjustments.

Employees will receive the one-time payment June 7, the memo states.

While the council unanimously approved the one-time payments, Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire said he doesn’t typically support a one-time funding approach.

“I think that the clear and better approach and more stable approach for your employee base is a level of wage adjustment that is secured that is then depended upon,” Aleshire said. “I just simply think that’s a better way to do government. That being said ... the only promise I have made in this process in elected office is responsible management of the citizen’s funds.”

Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh agreed with Aleshire, saying one-time “bonuses” are not a benefit to an employee in the long run as the one-time payment will not be factored into an overall salary at retirement.

“Everybody must be OK with it, because I didn’t hear any complaints from employees,” she said.

Mayor David S. Gysberts echoed Munson’s statement in thanking city employees for the “sacrifices they have made in the economic downturn to keep the city fiscally sound but also to keep our high level of service to our citizens and our customers.”

The memo states employees have been “impacted by reductions in employee benefits.”

“In (fiscal year 2012), the city implemented the phase down of payouts at retirement for accumulated sick leave and by July 1, 2016, the maximum payout will be capped at $12,000,” the memo reads. “On January 1, 2011, the number of sick days that can be earned by full-time employees each calendar year was reduced from 15 to 12.”

According to the memo, the estimated cost of the $1,000 payments for full-time employees is $442,443, including applicable federal income taxes paid. The cost of $200 payments to part-time employees is $8,397.

The majority of the payments would be issued via the general fund with $301,420 for full-time and $6,890 for part-time, the memo states.

Burker has said the remaining payments would come via the city’s self-sustaining enterprise funds — the

Community Development Block Grant, electric, water, wastewater, parking and property management funds.

The city extended a $1,000 payment to full-time regular employees during fiscal year 2012 totaling $448,000.

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