Shiawassee County residents upset about commissioners’ COVID-19 payouts

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 4:35 PM EDT
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SHIAWASSEE COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - A day after many people learned about Shiawassee County commissioners’ vote to pay themselves thousands of dollars in American Rescue Plan funding, the community is weighing in.

A lot of people are upset. They want to know why Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jeremy Root felt the need to give himself $25,000. Other commissioners received $10,000 and $5,000 amounts.

Residents wonder why that money didn’t go to where it’s needed most.

“I think it’s selfish. It’s very greedy, especially if it can go back to the community. I mean we vote for them,” said Owosso resident Leslie Powell.

She was pretty worked up Wednesday about what happened. She works full time at Hungry Howie’s to support three kids with an annual salary of $25,000.

That’s how much Root is receiving. Other commissioners are receiving one-time payments of $10,000 and $5,000 from Shiawassee County’s share of American Rescue Plan COVID-19 relief dollars.

Commissioner Marlene Webster is the only commissioner to discuss plans for returning the money she received, because she wasn’t aware her vote included payments to commissioners.

“You voted for that and you had a choice. And that’s what makes it even worse,” Powell said.

Aside from paying themselves, all county employees also received one-time payments, which averaged around $2,100. Many people believe the funding should be reversed with commissioners receiving nothing and those who worked on the front lines risking their lives receiving the higher amounts.

Bottom line -- residents feel there are better ways to use that money

“A lot of people can benefit from $25,000. I’m not sure what his job entitles – like why that would entitle him to have that money,” said resident Barb Haber-Grinnell.

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