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Genesee and Saginaw county commissioners not seeking COVID-19 bonuses

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 6:33 PM EDT
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MID-MICHIGAN (WJRT) - Many Shiawassee County residents were not thrilled to learn the county officials they elected voted to pay themselves thousands of dollars in American Rescue plan funding.

Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jeremy Root received the highest amount at $25,000. The remaining commissioners all received $10,000 or $5,000 in COVID-19 relief funding, but Commissioner Marlene Webster said she will give her bonus back to the county.

Commissioners from Mid-Michigan’s two largest counties don’t plan to follow Shiawassee County’s lead. Genesee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Mark Young and Saginaw County Administrator Robert Belleman say there are no plans to give COVID-19 bonuses to elected officials.

Young said Genesee County is receiving around $78.6 million in American Rescue Plan funding.

“We have had no discussion about giving any of the commissioners a pay raise out of these funds,” he said.

Instead, Young said the county has five specific areas they will be focusing on for how to spend that money and get the most bang for their buck. That includes administration of justice, lost revenue, tax relief, the health department and capital projects.

Young said discussions are under way about specific programs in each of those areas and commissioners are exploring ways to make those dollars go further.

“We’ve involved all of the commissioners in the decision-making process, so I think the areas that we have are best set up to serve the county,” he said.

In Saginaw County, Belleman said the county will be receiving around $37 million. They’ve spent some of that money already on off-site jury trials, so there can be proper social distancing and allow for a safe environment for jurors.

“We are proposing to use it for revenue loss during 2020 and 2021. And we’re estimating about $1 million in fiscal year 2022 as revenue loss,” Belleman said.

He said commissioner will not receive any sort of compensation from the COVID-19 relief funding. But because counties are allowed under specific provisions of the funding, he said one commissioner did submit a proposal that would give premium payments to county employees.

Belleman said there are certain requirements that must be met that would allow for those payments to happen. He is accepting other proposals about how to use that $37 million from organizations, businesses and nonprofits across the county.

Saginaw County commissioners likely will vote on those proposals later this year.

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