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Prairie Grove Approves Covid Pay

by Lynn Kutter | November 24, 2021 at 5:35 a.m.

PRAIRIE GROVE -- The city of Prairie Grove will use almost 50% of its federal American Rescue Plan money for 2021 to provide covid premium pay for employees.

Prairie Grove City Council approved a resolution Nov. 15 to appropriate up to $346,000 to provide the premium pay to eligible workers who meet the criteria under the federal act.

In all, Prairie Grove is receiving about $1.23 million from the American Rescue Plan. The city already has received the first installment of $696,000 and will receive the rest of the money in 2022.

City staff has determined that all employees meet the criteria for the one-time premium pay for work during the specified time period.

Criteria includes workers necessary to maintain the continuity of operations of essential critical infrastructures and workers who perform eligible work that included in-person interaction or physical handling of items that were handled by others.

The city will provide premium pay at a rate of $5 per hour for regular employees and $4 per hour for seasonal employees for work performed from March 8, 2020, through Dec. 26, 2020.

Attached to the resolution is a spreadsheet that shows the hours worked by each employee during the time period and how much premium pay they will receive.

According to the spreadsheet, the city has 56 full-time or part-time and 41 seasonal employees. Of the full-time employees, 29 will receive more than $7,000 in covid premium pay. Four employees will receive more than $8,000.

The city will pay all applicable employer payroll contributions from the American Rescue Plan money, according to the resolution.

The mayor or elected officials are not eligible for premium pay.

Prairie Grove's premium pay compares to a maximum of $2,500 per employee paid by the city of Farmington for premium covid pay and a maximum of $2,500.80 per employee paid by the city of Lincoln for premium covid pay.

The council also gave its approval to use American Rescue Plan money to make a one-time payment to the Washington County Ambulance Authority, which oversees Central Emergency Medical Service.

Becky Stewart, Central EMS chief and executive director of the authority, said the authority is asking the county and the 13 cities that use the service to provide a portion of their covid-relief funds for a $2.2 million project to purchase 24 powerload structures and two ambulances fully equipped and staffed.

Prairie Grove's per capita share of the total would be $52,001. The council agreed to support the request and will consider a resolution in December to appropriate the money.

In other action, the council:

• Accepted a low bid of $1,258,176 from Emory Sapp and Sons Construction of Joplin, Mo., to reconstruct the intersection of Viney Grove Road and Bush Street. The city plans to turn the intersection into a four-way stop. The city is using street bond proceeds for the project, which is Phase 1 of a plan to extend Viney Grove Road to Buchanan Street.

• Approved annual longevity bonuses. The bonuses range from $450 to $250, based on how long an employee has worked for the city.

• Approved a "Back the Blue" resolution, which shows the council's support for new legislation to create a state income tax credit for full-time law enforcement officers.

Print Headline: Prairie Grove Approves Covid Pay

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