Mayfield Heights considers utilizing American Rescue Plan cash to offer bonuses to metropolis workers who labored throughout pandemic: Stimulus Watch

MAYFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio – A proposal to use federal stimulidollars to provide 4,000 bonuses to Mayfield Heights police officers and firefighters has turned into a potential bonus to all municipal and administrative employees deemed “material” and during the Pandemic worked.

City officials don’t have the money to spend. In fact, they haven’t even been told exactly how much money the city will receive from the American bailout plan over two years. But Estimates from cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer state Mayfield Heights could receive about $ 1.9 million in total.

Finance director Karen Fegan said the city is still considering how to spend its money. However, she confirmed that the proposal to provide bonuses to “all key workers” is being examined. She did not specify which positions are considered important or how many employees it involves, so it is unclear how much bonuses could be paid.

The city initially considered giving $ 4,000 in bonuses paid with American Rescue Plan money only to first responders, in addition to incremental pay increases – paid out of the city’s budget – as in collective agreements with unions, the police, and fire departments and other workers represented, negotiated.

Council members voted on the ordinances to sign the collective agreements during a meeting on May 24, partly due to disagreement over the bonuses and which city servants should receive them. Legislation empowering the mayor to approve the union contracts is back on the council’s agenda on Monday, but it’s unclear whether the agreements include bonuses.

“We talked about a lump sum instead of a percentage every year,” Councilor Gayle Teresi said at the May meeting. “We didn’t know there would be a lump sum and a percentage.”

Teresi said she is in favor of a raise for first responders given their necessary and 24/7 work during the pandemic. However, she was concerned about giving a bonus on top of the raise – especially since she heard city workers say that all employees who worked during the pandemic would receive a bonus, which would be paid in stimulus money.

“Someone who worked at City Hall called and told me everyone was getting a $ 4,000 bonus,” Teresi said. After the meeting, Teresi told a reporter that non-union city workers typically receive a similar raise to union workers, so she wondered who else could get a $ 4,000 bonus.

“Did the mayor (Anthony DiCicco) get it? Will (Finance Director) Ms. Fegan get it? How about some advice? We were there (work and hold meetings) during COVID, “Teresi said a freelancer for Sun Messenger, a sister publication of cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer.

The US Treasury Department has issued guidelines on how local governments can use their American Rescue Plan dollars. One of the proposals is to “provide premium wages for key workers to provide additional support to those who, as a result of their services in critical infrastructure sectors, face and will bear the greatest health risks”.

“I’m in favor of everyone getting a raise, especially the police and fire departments,” Councilor Robert DeJohn said during the May 24 session. “Here’s my problem: as soon as these two units get their raise, they get everyone else in town – everyone else, including the administrative staff. You will all get this lump sum up to the time you raise your salary. “

Councilor Donald Manno joined DeJohn and Teresi in May against the collective agreements. He said council members should receive a raise or bonus for signing raises for other employees.

“Mr. DeJohn said everyone in town gets the raise,” Manno said. “The council doesn’t get it, but we have to sign it for everyone else. We worked through COVID too – not the same way. But fact If you say that everyone in town hall gets a raise or a bonus, what about the advice? Are we stepchildren? Or what’s going on here? “

Finance director Fegan said compensation to the mayor and council will be determined by a regulation that includes a “nested” calculation based on factors such as increases in the general fund and the consumer price index for the previous year. But her statement didn’t seem to deter councilors hoping for a bonus or raise from the money from the American bailout.

Councilor Michael Ballistrea said he did not know why some of his colleagues were confused. He said notes he took during an earlier meeting suggested Fegan said some of the American bailout money would “most likely” be used for bonuses.

“So that was checked and it was always on the table that this should be done as far as I was concerned,” Ballistrea said.

Stimulus Watch is a public service journalism project run by cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer to track federal grants reaching Northeast Ohio through the US rescue plan. Read more undercleveland.com/stimulus-watch.