While most government agencies are reducing expenses with an eye on falling tax revenue because of the coronavirus shutdown, the City of Clarkdale will give city employees hazardous duty pay.
Mayor Chuck Espy released plans to give city employees hazardous pay earlier this week and Commissioners discussed the move at their vetting meeting Thursday. On a motion by Ward 3 Commissioner Willie Turner and a second by Ward 4 Commissioner Ed Seals the board adopted the policy.
Under the mayor’s plan each of the city’s 147 city employees will get an $80 hazardous duty increase in their next two paychecks for a total of $160 each.
Clarksdale has seen sales tax revenue creep up with a healthy holiday season helping fill city coffers. But it is not certain that trend will continue as the city’s shelter-in-place rules and curfew have reduced commerce in the community.
City Clerk Cathy Clark said she always builds an emergency fund into each city budget and told commissioners Thursday the money would come from that account.
In making his announcement Espy said the pandemic environment has exposed not only first responders, but all city employees.
“Hazard pay is crucial to our city of heroes who are serving during these extraordinary circumstances,” said Espy. “Citywide employees now have an added layer of danger to their jobs. This compensation is an effort to show them that they are appreciated and respected.”
The City of Clarksdale will offer hazard pay to all city employees beginning April 13, until May 10.
The city’s coronavirus shutdown order and curfew is set to expire Monday, April 13, and commissioners discussed and indicated they will probably vote to extend it at their regular Monday meeting.
Commissioners said they plan make the city’s regulations and ordinance mirror the state’s. Mississippi enacted their coronavirus executive order to run through April 20. President Donald Trump has hinted he wants to see the country get back to work in May.
The coronavirus shutdown prompted Coahoma County supervisors to vote to cut all non-statutory required funding as they face the loss of casino tax revenue at their April 6 meeting.
The decision was prompted by the closing of The Isle of Capri casino in Lula that was funding the county’s budget to the tune of approximately $103,000 per month. With the casinos forced to close because of mandated coronavirus shutdowns by the state in March, they won’t have April customers and the county will get no casino money next month.
Comptroller Ann Hoskins said the county received its March check for $102,000 around the first of April and May will be the month the money all but stops. Casino revenue for the county is earmarked for county capital improvements, equipment purchases and county road and bridge maintenance.
Board of Supervisors President Johnny Newson said the county is also looking at contracting with a collection agency to go after old fines, past-due taxes and unpaid bills. He asked the board to be ready to vote on that issue at their April 22 meeting.