SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – As thousands of essential employees still head to work amid the pandemic some Savannah leaders believe city workers should get a pay increase. Savannah’s City Council met Thursday via Zoom to discuss implementing hazard pay for the city’s workers.
“As you know the city of Savannah does not shut down, we can’t shut down,” Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said.
And with that, the city is open 24/7 making sure essential business is getting done from policing to putting out fires. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect city employees, city council aldermen are on your side making sure you’re paid for putting your life on the line.
“It’s important for us to make sure that to this point we have not laid off anybody. To this point, we have not furloughed anybody. Many companies across this community and across this country are doing that,” Johnson said.
Running the city of Savannah is a 2,400 member operation but City Manager Pat Monahan has been crunching the numbers trying to balance the budget to provide hazard pay.
“As of Monday, I was looking at trying to fund a one time bonus as opposed to a $2.50 an hour that was my preference,” Monahan said.
Council members decided the pay would be offered hourly. This option will cost the city’s general fund $1.1 million. The city manager will sign an adminstrative order to implement a hazard pay policy to start April 12 through at least May 29. This will bring in around an additional $100 per week for city employees.
“As a southern municipality we get a large deal of our revenue from sales tax and that makes it a challenging position to try to find hazard pay and I don’t know of any other places that are able to afford this luxury right now. I’m glad that we are taking care of our city employees,” District 4 Alderman, Nick Palumbo said.
Monahan explained that all but 335 city employees are eligible. Elected officials, the city manager and the city attorney will not recieve additional pay.
The city of Savannah has 30 city employees under self-quarantine. None has yet tested positive for COVID-19.