CONYERS -- Rockdale County employees can expect to receive a $1,000 bonus in the coming weeks.
Finance Director Roslyn Miller formally proposed the idea of the bonus Tuesday during the County Commissioners' work session.
Miller explained that it was expected that $2 million in reserve funds would need to be used to balance the 2011 budget. However, due to budget-cutting measures taken by department heads and constitutional officers, the $2 million in reserve funds was not needed, she said.
"Most departments came in under budget this year," Miller said.
She requested that the board use a portion of the $2 million to provide a bonus to county employees. Miller said all full-time county employees who have worked with the county for more than a year would receive a $1,000 bonus and part-time employees who work more than 20 hours a week would receive $250.
According to Tonya Parker, approximately 730 full-time employees would receive a $1,000 bonus and 70 part-time employees would receive the $250 bonus. Elected officials would not receive any bonus, Parker stated.
County employees have not received any raises or bonuses since 2008 when employees received an average of a 3 percent raise, according to Parker
Miller estimated this year's bonus would be a total of around $800,000, with approximately $100,000 being paid out of the Rockdale Water Resources budget. The remaining $1.1 million would be returned to the county's reserve fund.
This move will require county commissioners to vote on a budget amendment during its next scheduled public meeting.
Commissioner JaNice Van Ness said she favored providing a bonus for employees, but said she wanted to consider a couple of options.
"Tax Commissioner Dan Ray has projected an 8 percent decline in property taxes next year, so while I certainly value the work of our employees, I would like to consider giving a bonus of $500 with the remainder going back into the coffers so we do not have to raise taxes of our residents next year," Van Ness said.
If that was not acceptable to the other commissioners, Van Ness suggested paying the $1,000 bonuses in installments.
However, both Chairman Richard Oden and Commissioner Oz Nesbitt supported paying the $1,000 bonuses in one lump sum.
"Without question, our employees are long overdue for a bonus of some kind," Nesbitt said. "One thousand dollars is a great incentive, a great boost. I wish we were in a position to give more with a real, actual raise."
Oden agreed, pointing out that county employees have not received a raise in more than four years.
Nesbitt acknowledged that this action might be perceived by some to be motivated by the upcoming election, where he and Oden will face re-election challenges.
"Since every act we take is up for contention, I say we move forward and give our employees this bonus," Nesbitt said. "Let the naysayers be naysayers, and we will go ahead and take care of our employees."