After several weeks of intense debate, Columbus Council approved a 40-hour pay bonus for city employees Tuesday without comment.
With a unanimous vote, councilors passed an ordinance amending the Fiscal Year 2018 budget ordinance to include the bonuses, which employees will receive in their paychecks before an Aug. 11 pay lapse scheduled to occur as the city converts to a new software system.
“The original FY18 adopted budget included a one-time 20-hour bonus for eligible full-time employees excluding elected officials due to the HRM/payroll conversion from a mainframe system to a web-based platform,” the amendment reads. “By Council substitute, this amendment amends the budgets for the Fiscal Year 2018 by appropriating amounts in each fund to fund a 40-hour bonus instead of the previously adopted 20-hour bonus.”
The additional 20-hours will impact the general fund by $785,000, city officials said.
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Councilor Skip Henderson made the motion for the 40-hour bonus at a July 11 meeting, amending a proposal that would’ve switched a proposed 20-hour employee bonus to a $500 option.
Councilor Walker Garrett had proposed the flat $500 bonus after Council delayed a vote on whether to double the 20-hour bonus. He argued that it would provide more money for employees most likely to experience hardship during the pay gap, and it would be less expensive to the city.
At the July 11 meeting, councilors also discussed allowing employees to cash in vacation days in lieu of, or in addition to, the 20-hour bonus. But in the end, most favored the 40-hour option.
“I don’t see any way out of this thing other than doing the one-week pay to cover everybody, “ Henderson said at that meeting. “... You’ll know what a hard head I am when dipping into fund balance, but we have employees that don’t have access to pay that they need to run their households.”