MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - It’s been a month since the Montgomery City-County Personnel Board granted hazard pay for certain qualifying employees in the city of Montgomery and Montgomery County.
Employees who qualify get an extra $2.50 added to their hourly rate of pay through the CARES Act for a six-week period.
According to Montgomery city leaders, right now under the CARES Act, eligible employees are those in public safety (EMA, MFR, MPD) who are substantially spending their working hours responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. This does not include administrative positions in those departments.
Mayor Steven L. Reed included employees in the sanitation department who are out on the street picking up potentially contaminated garbage to receive hazard pay. By the CARES Act guidelines, sanitation employees do in fact qualify, but there is not currently a federal plan for federal reimbursement.
Certain city employees who work in maintenance, for example, do not qualify for hazard pay and Councilmen Glenn Pruitt is wondering why.
“I got numerous phone calls from different departments from the city that was asking why they were not included in the hazardous duty pay,” Pruitt said. “I wanted to ask the question to the mayor and to our CFO (chief finance officer) why are we not including all city employees.”
At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Montgomery Finance Director Betty Beville said Under the Cares Act only certain city employees qualify.
“The CARES Act funding specifically says those whose substantially mitigate the virus meaning that you’re coming in contact with the public,” Beville said “They don’t consider someone paving the streets as someone having to come in contact with the public.”
Pruitt said the city should find an alternate source of hazard pay funding for the employees who do not qualify.
“If these employees are not covered under the CARES Act, in my opinion, it should not matter,” Pruitt said. “The city should step up. We’re not talking about an enormous of money in a $240-something million budget.”
Reed said under the CARES Act the city’s hands are tied.
“I’d love to include everybody in this, but we were able not to furlough anybody, not to lay off anybody in part because of tough financial decisions that we had to make,” Reed said. “So, in a case like this, the federal CARES Act lays out who can be considered and who can’t.”
If you are a city employee who does not currently qualify but feel you should, the city says a request should be sent to your supervisor. That request will then be sent to a cabinet director and then to finance to be reviewed.
According to Beville, right now 1,120 city employees are currently receiving hazard pay.