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LaGrange pays $600k in hazard pay to employees

City of LaGrange employees will each take home $1,500 more than they normally would in the period from October through December, thanks to a resolution the city council unanimously approved Tuesday night.

Approximately 400 city employees will receive $500 in hazard pay in the first pay periods of October, November and December. The total cost will be about $200,000 for each payment, totaling $600,000.

The money comes from the federal government due to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. CARES money was awarded to the state of Georgia, which in turn created a process by which local counties and cities could apply to be reimbursed by the state for COVID-19-specific expenses. 

LaGrange was eligible for about $1.6 million, Thornton said. Governor Brian’s Kemp office recently approved the city’s submission and reimbursed Lagrange with $1.6 million in federal funds.

The money is only allowed to be used to pay for expenses incurred as a result of the pandemic.

Thornton made the proposal to use part of the money to pay hazard pay to employees at the mayor and council’s work session Tuesday morning. It was approved Tuesday night.

“I think the one constant, the one constant during six months of the coronavirus, has been the

Unwavering dedication of the 400-plus employees of the city of LaGrange,” Thornton said.

Thornton said city employees deserved the pay because they had continued working throughout the crisis, sometimes placing themselves in harm’s way or being exposed to the virus.

“They have done so [responded to COVID-19] putting themselves at great hazard, having to deal with the public in the way that they do and not having the option of closing down services,” Thornton said. 

Carve-outs were made to prevent elected officials or department heads from receiving the extra pay. 

Thornton originally proposed excluding the city’s 25 part-time employees from the hazard pay, which Council Member Nathan Gaskin objected to. 

Thornton proposed paying $250 to the part-time employees, for a total of $750 each, which satisfied Gaskin.