The Muskegon County Board of Commissioners recently approved bonuses for county employees, and the public is not happy about it.
At the Ways and Means Committee meeting on Nov. 1, the committee approved bonuses for full-time, part-time and hourly county employees.
Full-time employees will receive a one time $700 bonus; part-time employees will receive $350; and hourly employees will receive $250.
Employees who will receive the bonuses are both union and nonunion employees.
At the committee meeting, seven audience members spoke against the motion.
Jim Riley, addressed the board stating that the board approved a similar motion last year to bring the total of bonuses to around $2 million. He suggested that the money be used for programs in the community and also stated that the Republicans on the board (John Snider, Alan Jager and Bob Snider Marvin Engle) said they would make sure that the citizens’ tax dollars would be spent wisely. He also called out Jim Derezinski, stating that he said he would take care of the tax dollars and also make sure they are spent well.
“And yet we see county employees being laid off,” Riley said. “How many laid off employee jobs could be saved?”
Matt Crehan also spoke to the group stating that Christmas came early for the county employees and said that because of this motion, the county government and representatives are doing nothing more than taking the county residents’ money and giving it to county employees.
“It’s almost as if we have a county against the people, against the rest of us,” Crehan said, “because that’s the way the general public perceives this.”
But, not all who spoke were opposed. Marcia Wilks, chief deputy county clerk, stated that she has a son that works for the county as well, but only works part time. For him to get $250, that is a big deal, she said. He has no benefits, but makes too much to apply for anything else.
“To us it is a very big deal,” Wilks said.
According to Debbie Groeneveld, human resources director, the one time lump-sum payments are instead of a percentage increase, which county employees haven’t received in several years.
These specific amounts were negotiated with all the bargaining units and were decided as these three amounts, which were less than what was originally brought to the table by the bargaining units, said Groeneveld.
County Administrator Bonnie Hammersley stated that the $1.03 million total in bonuses was budgeted for and was covered with reduced expenditures in the insurance funds. By offering employees the option to sign up for a wellness program the county anticipates a reduction in expenditures.
After much discussion between the commissioners and county employees, the motion was passed 9-1 with Derezinski excused and Alan Jager voting no.
The bonuses will be given out later this month.