Tooele County employees and elected officials will receive a year-end bonus for 2013 equal to 2 percent of their total wages earned during the year, a county commissioner says.
“We took a look at the budget and we had enough money to do this,” said Commission Chairman Bruce Clegg. “It is not a raise or anything permanent—just a one-time bonus.”
He added this is the first time the county has given year-end bonuses, which total approximately $200,000.
The year-end bonus suggests the county’s financial condition, which just a few months ago was categorized as dire by county officials, has evidently changed.
In December 2012, the commissioners had just completed a third round of county employee layoffs. And in early 2013 there was talk of a severe cash flow problem and potential bankruptcy.
The layoffs continued until May 2013 when, after letting go of more than 100 total employees and eliminating several departments, the commissioners announced an end to mass layoffs and revealed a plan for the county’s economic recovery.
That plan included raising property taxes for the first time in 27 years to generate $2.6 million to repay interdepartmental loans to the Deseret Peak Complex fund, rebuild the county’s fund balance, and create a reserve fund for capital improvements.
For 2014 the county commissioners have also proposed a $1.5 million tax increase for unincorporated areas of the county to help pay for municipal type services, including law enforcement and road maintenance.
“The financial recovery plan is working,” said Commissioner Shawn Milne while discussing the bonuses. “Thus we have the ability to do this.”
Milne referred to the year-end pay out as a “retention bonus” that is designed to keep trained and experienced county employees.
In the last four years, county employees have received only one 1.5 percent cost of living adjustment. There have also been no merit pay increases. Furthermore, the new 2014 county budget offers no cost of living pay increase.
“We have people leaving the county and taking with them their institutional knowledge and experience,” said Milne. “This is our way of saying, ‘Thank you for staying with us.’”