CONYERS -- Rockdale County employees are set to receive a $1,000 bonus today, but the amount they get to keep will be a bit less.
The checks employees receive will be reduced by the amount withheld for Social Security and retirement. However, no state or federal taxes will be withheld and employees should be prepared to report the bonus income when they file their individual tax returns, said Tonya Parker, director of Community Affairs and Innovative Programs with Rockdale County.
In May, county commissioners voted to give all full-time employees who have worked for the county for at least a year a one-time $1,000 bonus. Part-time employees who worked more than 20 hours a week in fiscal year 2011 will receive $250.
Prior to the vote, Commissioner JaNice Van Ness expressed reservations about the bonuses. She said she was concerned that the move was more of a "Band-Aid" that would serve to temporarily "appease" county employees. She said employees and taxpayers would be better served with a long-term plan to address employees' pay.
Chairman Richard Oden and Commissioner Oz Nesbitt voted in favor of the measure, saying it would boost morale.
According to an email sent by Finance Director Roselyn Miller, general full-time employees will receive today checks in the amount of $913.50; full-time public safety employees will receive checks in the amount of $873.50, due to higher retirement contribution; and regular part-time employees will receive $235.88, according to an email sent to certain department heads and elected officials on June 5.
"We want to maximize the psychological impact on our 'one-time payment,'" Miller stated. "We did this by skipping withholding federal and state income tax on the payment, thereby making the take-home portion appear as large as possible."
Sam Smiley, who is a candidate for Post 1 on the Rockdale County Commission, referenced this email during the BOC work session on Tuesday.
He said Van Ness' characterization of the bonuses as an appeasement did not go far enough.
"I would add another word: deceiving," Smiley said.
He said the way the commissioners handled the bonuses was merely giving county employees "a false sense of security" when "Uncle Sam will come later to take it away."
Nesbitt said he felt confident that employees will be happy with the bonus, and expects most will take it straight to the bank.