Town at odds over hazard pay for workers

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TOWN OF FISHKILL – In December, the prior Fishkill Town Board passed a resolution to use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to give bonuses to every town employee.  The town is getting $2.2 million in ARPA money and the employees have not been paid.

 

The premature gesture was made based on faulty information provided by the town’s former human resources director, Gina Basile.

 

According to the December resolution and a memo from Basile, all town employees, including those worked from home, were “essential” and therefore eligible for a hazard pay bonus using ARPA funds.  Full-time employees have been expecting their $1,000 payment since the board passed it, while part-timers have been waiting for their $500 bonuses.

 

Town Comptroller Sharon Mitchell was accused of delaying the payments by Councilwoman Luise Danielle, who had co-sponsored the original resolution with Supervisor Ozzy Albra.  When the comptroller explained that the federal guidelines, issued by the US Department of Treasury set specific guidelines on what employees were eligible to get checks using ARPA money on January 6 of this year, Danielle said Mitchell should have told the board.  Mitchell noted that the board had approved the spending a month earlier.

 

Danielle said, “It needs to be for all employees or no employees,” as far as getting the checks out.  The councilwoman also suggested that ARPA funds be used to give bonuses to those considered “essential” by the feds and town funds could be used to pay bonuses to the rest of the town’s workforce.

 

Councilman John Forman offered a solution that was accepted by the new board.  Forman is requiring the comptroller to provide the ARPA rules, available HERE, to Albra who will then ask each department head to determine employee eligibility and return the forms to Albra.  No date has been set to determine the final list of “essential” employees or when they will be paid.

The abbreviated “overview” of the US Department of Treasury rules for spending ARPA funds can be found HERE.