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City of Wilmington and New Hanover County employees to get Covid-cash bonuses

Vince Winkel

The American Rescue Plan gave the City of Wilmington and New Hanover County millions of dollars to give bonuses to employees. Frontline employees like medical and sanitation workers will get up to $2800, while workers who were at slightly lower risk would receive up to $1400.

A third category of employee, those who worked at home, aren’t eligible for the ARP bonuses.

But New Hanover County recently decided to supplement the available ARP funds and give all employees up to $3050, depending on how long they've worked for the county. At its Tuesday night meeting, the Wilmington City Council followed suit, and voted to give all employees a bonus, with different tiers for different levels of exposure. But the issue may not be settled- several council members suggested giving the same bonus to all employees, as the county did.

But Councilmember Neil Anderson argued in favor of a plan that tailors the amount of bonus to the level of risk.

"Someone who's been face to face with the public every day during COVID, and truly risking their lives versus someone who work from home," Anderson said. "Just trying to give everybody one thing- the risks don't compare to the reward to me. So I like the measured approach.”

Others disagreed and wanted to give bigger bonuses to all city staff- Councilman Kevin Spears in particular voiced support for such bonuses, which would cost the city an additional $475,000 from the city's fund balance.

But ultimately, the tiered bonus measure passed as written with the full support of the council, with plans for staff to bring a cost estimate to a future meeting for larger bonuses for all.

In addition, the council devoted $34,000 for “employment incentives,” which will be given to new employees in high vacancy fields, like police officers. Those bonuses will be $1,000 each.

Kelly Kenoyer is an Oregonian transplant new to the East Coast. She attended University of Oregon’s School of Journalism as an undergraduate, and later received a Master’s in Journalism from University of Missouri- Columbia. Contact her on Twitter @Kelly_Kenoyer or by email: KKenoyer@whqr.org.