Local News

Hazard Bonus Awarded to County Employees

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte County government employees are receiving up to a $500 bonus for working despite the risk of infection from coronavirus.  The La Porte County Council Wednesday night voted 4 to 3 to award the hazard pay.  Employees working from home occasionally during the pandemic will receive less based on how much time they worked from their residences.


“This will show the employees we appreciate everything they’ve done for us over the years and especially this year,” said Councilman Mike Mollenhauer.


The La Porte County Commissioners last week recommended $1,500 for each worker as a show fo appreciation and morale booster especially during the holidays.  Among the opponents was Councilman Michael Rosenbaum, who felt employees should be thankful to have a job when many others in the workforce nationwide were not as fortunate because of the virus triggered economic slowdown.  He also said each worker received a $1,000 increase in pay for 2020, which was higher in most cases than the one-percent salary hike originally proposed.


Rosenbaum also questioned if county government could afford to give hazard pay because not all coronavirus related costs this year were covered by federal COVID-19 relief dollars.  “Taxpayers with large salaries were furloughed and laid off.  How do we ask them to foot the bill and use funds that have been set aside for future needs,” he said.


Rosenbaum said expressions of appreciation have also been given to the workers during the pandemic.  Councilman Jeff Santana also said no county employee was let go since the pandemic hit in March.  “God love our county employees but no pay checks were ever missed. Everyone stayed on board,” he said.


Councilman Mark Yagelski said medics and other “front line workers” with no choice but to have contact with the public were more deserving of full hazard pay.  He said employees called back from the safety of their homes were still protected in their offices by shields and occupancy restrictions in the buildings.


La Porte County Auditor Joie Winski said an office job doesn’t come without risk of infection.  “We had people in our office every day.  There wasn’t a day that we missed. If somebody came to the door we went down and let them in,” she said.

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