CONYERS -- In a 2-1 vote, the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners approved a $1,000 bonus for most full-time county employees.
Commissioner Oz Nesbitt and Chairman Richard Oden voted in favor of a resolution on Tuesday authorizing the one-time payment. Commissioner JaNice Van Ness voted against the measure.
The one-time payment will be processed on June 15. All employees who have worked for the county for at least a year, beginning Jan. 1, 2011, are eligible for the bonus. Full-time employees will receive $1,000 and part-time employees who worked more than 20 hours a week in fiscal year 2011 will receive $250.
Finance Director Roselyn Miller formally proposed the idea of the bonus to county commissioners last week during their work session. She said that it was expected that $2 million in reserve funds would needed 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. Therefore, the county was in a position to offer county employees a bonus and put some money back into the reserve fund.
The total amount needed for the bonuses is $965,000.
Approximately 730 full-time employees will receive a $1,000 bonus and 70 part-time employees would receive the $250 bonus. Elected officials will not receive any bonus.
Van Ness said on Tuesday she was in favor of providing county employees a bonus, but 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.
"I would recommend we defer this resolution to look at long-term solutions and look at our 2013 budget," said Van Ness, pointing out that $28 million was collected this last year in property taxes and the Tax Commissioner's Office is expecting an 8 percent decrease next year.
Van Ness added that department heads and managers spent many weeks recently conducting performance evaluations, which should be used to determine raises and bonuses.
"That they are not considered is of great concern to me," she said.
Rockdale County resident Garvin Haynes addressed the BOC and said he was disappointed that every employee -- including those with the highest incomes who have received pay increases in recent years -- would be receiving the same bonus.
"You should have exempted the exempted," he said.
Nesbitt took issue with Van Ness' characterization and said that while he too would prefer to be able to give county employees raises, this one-time bonus is better than nothing.
"Saying this is simply to 'appease' employees sounds disrespectful, to be honest," Nesbitt said. "This is a one-time shot in the arm. It certainly will not solve all the problems, but it will show that this board is in tune with the needs of our employees."
Van Ness said she had misspoken when she used the word "appease," but she repeated that she was concerned that the leadership of the BOC was not looking for long-term solutions.
Oden disagreed and said that the BOC has been "very fiscally responsible" over the last three years."
"We have ample resources in our budget to offer our employees this one-time bonus," he said.