The Montgomery County Commission has approved a resolution authorizing premium pay to eligible county government employees, including the commissioners themselves, using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

The hazard pay is being made available from the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund, which provides that funds may be used “to respond to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to the eligible workers.”

Elected officials, such as the commissioners themselves and the mayor could also receive the funds.

The resolution said the county will provide premium pay up to $11 million to the county employees deemed “essential.”

Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett told commissioners he felt the amount would be close to $10.3 million.

The employees who receive the funds must be current employees, he said.

The distribution of funds will be based on an additional $5 per hour for current employees with a maximum of $10,000 per employee for the time period of March 1, 2020 through October 3, 2021.

Upon the Comptroller’s approval, the Montgomery County Commissioners will also receive a premium pay at a rate of 20% for eligible meetings attended by alternatives such as Zoom, with a maximum of $500, according to the resolution.

All of the payments will be determined by the Accounts and Budgets and Human Resources departments.

During the Monday, Oct. 11 formal meeting of the commission, Durrett said he felt the issue is an important one.

“I think it’s important to the men and the women who serve Montgomery County who are deemed critical, essential employees,” Durrett said. “Our accounts/budget office and our human resources office have been working on this almost non-stop. I think it’s critical that we recognize our employees.”

The mayor suspended the rules in order to place the premium pay for workers resolution on the agenda on Monday.

He said later that the matter had been discussed in a special-called budget meeting with the budget committee earlier in the day.

The committee felt it was okay to go ahead and suspend the rules in order to get the pay addressed during that evening’s scheduled commission meeting.

During the commission meeting, there were no comments or discussion offered by the commissioners.

The resolution passed by a 17-0 vote. Commissioner Garland Johnson abstained from the vote.

Commissioners Charles Keene, Joe Smith and Chris Rasnic were absent.

Durrett said lost revenues under the American Rescue Plan are expected to come before the commissioners in the November meeting.

“Somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.4 million will go back into county coffers from lost revenues, experienced by COVID-19,” Durrett said.

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