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Transparent Discussions and Decisions
Questions about Premium Pay
November 17, 2021

riental resident Bonnie Crosser writes in with concerns regarding Premium Pay at Town Hall:
During the October, 10/5/2021, Oriental Town Board Meeting, Commissioner Overcash addressed the Premium Pay for Oriental Town Workers during COVID.  Commissioner Overcash said that he and other Commissioners had spoken about it and agreed on a figure of $1,200 per worker.  I was present during the meeting and nothing was said regarding if the “figure” represented gross or net pay.  References to payments to employees are in the terms of gross pay (pay before taxes and deductions) as taxes and deductions differ by individual employee.  Additionally, throughout the budget and accounting process employee pay is always referred to in terms of gross pay.

It should be noted the America Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds are allocation by the Federal Government.  The Town of Oriental is allowed to use the funds for capital improvements to the Water Plant and Premium Pay for qualified Town Workers.  Oriental Town Hall was closed to the public for several months during the Pandemic and extensive cleaning protocols were initiated during the Pandemic.  Oriental employees were not required to wear masks during close contact with fellow employees and/or with the public throughout the Pandemic.

The October Premium Pay agreement for Oriental Town Workers was an equitable allocated across the eight employee whom qualified (based on salary) for the payment under ARPA.  During the November, 11/9/2021, Oriental Town Board Meeting, Commissioner White informed all present the Premium Pay for Oriental Town Workers will be in terms of net pay to the eight employees.  Not all Commissioners had the understanding the Premium Pay was based on net pay.  The change in terms will now account for an un-equitable allocation of gross pay across the eight employees.

The issue is the change to an Oriental Town Board agreement.  If the Oriental Town Board wanted to pay more why was the compensation amount not discussed and increased during the October meeting.  Those individuals present during the October meeting took the compensation amount of $9,600 as gross wages.  The change in terms increased the compensation amount to $12,944.17, representing an increase of $3,344.17, a 34% increase.  Why was the change made after the compensation amount was agreed upon?  My concern is the appearance of manipulating terms to yield desired results.  The citizens of Oriental deserve transparent discussions and decisions.  I ask our Oriental Commissioners to speak in consistent terms and honor prior Board decisions.

Bonnie Crosser
Oriental, NC
November 16, 2021

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