One year after heavy cuts, Washtenaw County gives its employees bonuses
About a year after the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners cut budgets in a number of departments, it approved a 1.5 percent one-time bonus for county employees Wednesday night during its last meeting of the year.
A 10-1 vote of the board approved bonuses for 940 county employees that have been required to take time off without pay this year. Commissioner Dan Smith, R-Northfield Township, was the dissenting vote.
The average amount of the one-time bonus is $800 per employee, which will be paid Dec. 21.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
Banked leave days were implemented as a cost-savings measure after property tax values began decreasing in 2009.
Banked leave days are mandatory days off without pay - similar to furlough days - but don’t have an impact on an employee’s retirement calculation.
In 2012, the county negotiated with most union groups for their employees to take 10 banked leave days off, resulting in a salary reduction of 3.85 percent. The county then required all employees to take 10 banked leave days off.
“Our county employees pay additional to their health benefits and their retirement. They have made a huge sacrifice to make this county work,” said Commissioner Ronnie Peterson, D-Ypsilanti. “This is no present, this is no gift; they have earned this compensation. We are just giving them back what they have rightly earned.”
County Commissioners thanked county employees for taking cuts during budget negotiations last year.
“We’re partners with the employees, and our employees came to the table during our last budget and they were willing to make sacrifices,” said Commissioner Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor. “This is a little way of giving back.”
Union representatives for some of the county employees also spoke at the meeting Wednesday night to express their gratitude for the approval of the bonuses.
“1.5 percent may be seen as a token, but it’s a lot,” said Caryette Fenner, president of AFSCME Local 2733.
Local 2733 represents the largest proportion of county employees and agreed to nearly $8 million in concessions last September so the county could balance its budget.
Nancy Heine, president of the AFSCME supervisors Local 3052, stated that the bonuses will help reduce some of the stress and pain incurred by employees over the past year.
Peterson stated that the wages of county employees would not be adjusted in 2013, except for the employees that are scheduled for contract negotiations.