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To recognize outstanding and valuable service to the people of Rensselaer County during the pandemic, County Executive Steve McLaughlin and members of the County Legislature announced county employees will be receiving a one-time bonus this fall.

The one-time payment will come as McLaughlin is readying the 2022 budget proposal, which will include what he termed as a “significant” tax reduction.

McLaughlin said the bonus is thanks to employees for their dedication and service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The county saw the first COVID-19 case in March, 2020 and began shutdowns during the same month.

“Our county employees went above and beyond in maintaining services for our residents during a time of real challenge and difficulty. This is our way of expressing thanks for their work and commitment to our county,” said McLaughlin.

“From our Health Department team handling COVID-19 cases, to our nurses and staff at the Van Rensselaer Manor, our Highway Department team responding to heavy storms, members of the Sheriff’s Department, our Department for the Aging staff providing additional home-delivered meals and members of my own team, our employees rose to the occasion and answered the call to duty. We can be proud to have these men and women serving our county,” added McLaughlin.

The funds for the employee bonus will primarily come from the American Rescue Plan, with some county funds used. The ARP allows for funds to be provided to workers who responded to the pandemic. The funds will be distributed at the following levels: $1,000 for each full-time employee with one-year service as of October 2; $500 for each employee who is less than full-time and an employee for over one-year, and for employees who are full-time with less than one-year service; and $250 for each employee who is less than full-time and with less than one-year service.

The bonus will cost a total of $1.3 million, with $1 million coming from the ARP and $300,000 coming from county funds. The bonus will be provided to approximately 1,500 active employees.

“As we are providing this one-time bonus as thanks to our employees for outstanding service, I want taxpayers to know that we are looking out for them. We have adopted three consecutive county budgets with a tax reduction, and the 2021 budget will included a fourth tax reduction that will be the largest in recent memory,” said McLaughlin.

Members of the Legislature majority said the bonus will help recognize valuable service by employees.

“We saw our employees rise to the occasion and meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic with commitment and compassion. Our employees did more, gave more service and responded to more difficult situations during the pandemic than ever before,” said Chair of the Legislature Mike Stammel.

“There are many essential county services that had to continue during the pandemic, and they did. We couldn’t simply shut down our wastewater plant, our highway department, or other critical services. Our employees worked hard, while many in private industry stayed home, and they deserve the recognition,” Vice Chair Kelly Hoffman- North Greenbush.

“This is a recognition that has been earned and is one that will not directly impact county taxpayers. The fact that the County Executive is also readying a tax decrease, and the fourth tax decrease, is also good news,” said Vice Chair for Finance Bob Loveridge.

“Many County employees stepped up to the task in the last year, and kept the County moving in the right direction. They spent time away from their families when family members were forced to stay home, so they could get their county work done. I feel they deserve the extra recognition for their efforts” Majority Leader Ken Herrington- Brunswick.