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County commission considers using state COVID-19 funds for employee bonuses

The Pennington County Administration building

The Pennington County Administration building

County employees will have to wait at least another two weeks to hear a decision on bonuses.

The Pennington County Commission unanimously voted to continue the discussion at its next meeting. The bonuses would come from $6 million in state reimbursement funds for COVID-related expenditures.

Commissioner Deb Hadcock wanted to give a bonus of $500 to full-time employees and $250 for part-time employees who are on the Oct. 1 payroll. 

“I think through our retention and hiring new people... I think it’s appropriate we remember on this team who has stayed with us through all of this,” Hadcock said. 

There are about 800 county employees. The bonus would exclude the County Commission members, Planning Board members, election workers, legal summer interns, Weed and Pest Board and rally deputies hired for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Human Resources Director John Morrill said with SSI and Medicare, the total cost would be $432,915.

Commissioner Travis Lasseter said he wanted to narrow down the employees who would receive the bonus to those who have been with the county for at least one year.

“I would be more comfortable with that because it sets that these individuals came in and we’re showing that appreciation to them after a year of working,” he said. 

State’s Attorney Mark Vargo proposed a 0.5% to 1% pay increase for county employees with the one-time infusion of state funds. There was also discussion on pro-rating the bonus so it disperses based on the amount of time employees have been with the county.

Commissioner Lloyd LaCroix said he wasn’t ready to vote on the item and made the motion to continue it.

The next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 7.

Out of the $6 million in COVID funds, the commissioners approved $2 million for the Pennington County Housing Authority; $1,837,000 for the Fire Service Board for the Creighton Radio project and fire stations for Wasta, Quinn and Scenic; $400,000 for the Health Care Trust Fund replenishment; and $371,167 for law enforcement radio upgrades.

The commission also voted to allocate $661,900 to the Wall Industrial Park, which would cover the estimated construction cost for Phase One of the project. The park would be built about a half-mile north of the Wall airport by Interstate 90 and would develop land for businesses and residents.

The money toward the Pennington County Housing Authority would go toward 65 new affordable living areas that the authority would rent.

During the meeting, the commission authorized a purchase of a mini excavator for the Highway Department and approved a proclamation to be read Friday at the opening of the Central States Fair.

The ribbon cutting for the fair will be at 3 p.m. Friday. The event will last Aug. 20-29.

 

— Contact Siandhara Bonnet at siandhara.bonnet@rapidcityjournal.com

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