Kern County approves premium pay for public employees

Coronavirus

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Economic relief is coming to Kern County essential workers.

Passed last Tuesday, the county budget for the upcoming fiscal year includes more than $22 million in premium pay for county employees affected by the pandemic. More than 7,000 workers — firefighters, law enforcement, public works and more — will each receive a $3,000r bonus.

The funding for the package comes from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), signed by President Biden in March. 

Although guidelines from the U.S. Treasury specify assistance is aimed at low wage essential workers, every Kern County employee — from low-wage staff members to the Board of Supervisors — will receive a bonus check.

“At the end of the day, we felt that the most equitable thing to do was to treat all our employees the same with how much premium pay they would be receiving,” Kern County chief operations officer Jim Zervis said.

Kern County’s allotment of the American Rescue Plan relief money totaled nearly $175 million. Along with premium pay, the package will be used to improve infrastructure and offset the county’s losses during the pandemic.

Now that the board of supervisors has approved the budget, the county is waiting for final guidance from the U.S. Treasury to distribute the checks.

Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop expects to receive this guidance in the coming weeks, and release bonuses by November.

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