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County Council tables COVID-19 bonuses for employees

The Laurens County Council voted to table a motion Tuesday night at its regular meeting to that would have funded COVID-19 bonuses for all county employees in time for Christmas.

Had the motion passed as put forth, council would have spent nearly $2 million of the $13 million the county received from the American Rescue Plan for COVID-19 relief on the bonuses. Laurens County currently employs 341 people on a full-time basis and 84 people part-time.

Full-time employees would have received $3,000 after taxes and part-time employees would have received $1,500 after taxes.

“There were a lot of ideas and thoughts of how the COVID money should be expended, and we’re still working on how the entirety of it will be dispersed,” said Laurens County Council Chairman Brown Patterson.

Patterson supported handing out the bonuses before Christmas, but that decision was put off at least until council’s first meeting of 2022 in January.

Councilman Luke Rankin suggested at an earlier meeting that the county’s first responders be given bonuses, but other council members thought bonuses should go to all county employees.

The City of Laurens and City of Clinton council members passed motions to disperse bonuses for all of their employees. Money for municipalities came from the federal Fiscal Recovery Fund.

If the motion passes at a future meeting when council takes it up again, the county will still have more than $10 million from the American Rescue Plan to spend, and Patterson said there is no shortage of ways to spend the money whether on capital projects, infrastructure or to help local nonprofits who were hit hard financially during the pandemic.

Council members have already used part of the ARP funds to purchase three ambulances to replace older equipment used by EMS, spending $750,000 to add to the fleet.

“I hope to see a large portion go to local nonprofits that suffered greatly during COVID,” Patterson said. “Memorial Home is one of those more than deserving as nonprofits in community. Water and sewer infrastructure is a priority of several of us (on council), and some of our emergency services agencies have capital needs.

“We just want to do the most of what we can for our community with what we have.”

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