- Rich Klein
Hazard Pay For Unspecified Number of Frontline Workers During Covid Passes County Legislature By 6-3
MONTICELLO - Continuous public pressure, applied largely by a small group of committed activists, led to the passage by the County Legislature Thursday of an amended resolution that carves out $375,000 from federal funds to reward those frontline county employees who risked their health by coming to work at the height of the pandemic in 2020.
The amended resolution passed 6-3, with Legislature Chair Rob Doherty joining Legislators George Conklin III and Legislator Nicholas Salamone Jr. voting against it.
And, in a rare display of opposition to Doherty, Legislature Vice Chair Michael Brooks joined Legislators Ira Steingart, Alan Sorensen, Nadia Rajsz and Luis Alvarez voted in favor of the hazard pay.
The original resolution that passed the Management and Budget Committee (chaired by Conklin) called for $3.75 million to be allocated to the Department of Public Works for repairs to County roads while another $3.57 million allocated to Sullivan County Community College for Capital Improvement projects.
The amendment offered by Sorensen will reduce the the college funding by $375,000 and used for one-time checks for a certain number of employees. Although the process for selecting those employees who qualify was not finalized, Alvarez suggested that it should be left up to county department heads to determine who is eligible.
But the legislators as a whole agreed that those employees who worked remotely during the pandemic would not receive any of the funds.
(The American Rescue Plan Act, which sent a total of $14 million to the County in two payments, allows for hazard pay for frontline workers).
During public comments before the vote, resident Ken Walter said that hazard pay reflects "the idea that you recognize people for the chances they took for our society."
Local activist Cat Scott held up a sign during the regular meeting of the County Legislature that said: "Sullivan County frontline workers deserve premium pay."