Speak Out: Levy Court caps essential employee emergency pay

Kent County Levy Court commissioners revised a 30-year-old policy Tuesday night to limit extra pay for essential employees during an emergency event. Officials said it was originally intended for short-term events such as a snowstorm, tornado or other emergency. The policy was amended to cap time and a half and/or compensation time at 80 hours during a state of emergency and after that essential employees will be paid their regular salary, officials said. While county buildings remain closed, operations continue on a limited basis. Officials said revenue from fees and services have dropped since COVID-19 arrived, negatively affecting the General Fund. Public works employees at the wastewater treatment plant in Frederica, paramedics, emergency management, dispatchers and custodians are deemed essential. The extra pay and compensation time amounted to about $33,000 in the first week, the county said.

• What a great idea, limit employees dealing with this crisis on the front lines, putting themselves out there and potentially bringing this virus into their own households, because a 20-year-old rule doesn’t fit your budget any longer. How about seeking federal relief or take from somewhere else in the budget. They should have a sick out or just walk away. They didn’t sign up for this.Then I’m sure the Levy Court would quickly come up with a better solution for the employees. – Brian Kucharski

• My posts to elected officials: The Kent County Levy Court Commissioners voted last night to cut paramedics pay! Guess they don’t deem them essential during this worldwide health pandemic I guess risking their lives to get COVID-19-infected constituents of Kent County to hospitals isn’t considered a hazard! If that is true then why is everyone in quarantine? Why has Gov. Carney issued a statewide “State of Emergency?” Why do your constituents need to wear face masks and gloves if this is no big thing? Why are all non-essential businesses shut down but our essential first responders are still working and not quarantined after coming in contact with COVID-19? Kent County is getting special funding from the State of Delaware and from the federal government as well! What do you, Kent County Commissioners, plan on using these funds for? Your constituents want to know. We demand a full accounting of every penny and where spent and who received this grant and funding money. – Beverly Ann 

• How about Levy Court takes a pay cut and spread it to the essential employees? – Phil Shernofsky

• Cowardice move by Levy Court. If essential employees walk off the job they’ll have a lot more to worry about than their budget. – Dave LaPera

• Wow. I hope if someone has to call 911 there is a qualified employee getting paid to answer that call. – James Elocin

• Don’t think they thought this one through. Throw it back and try again. – Dave Fisher

• My question is why are they working overtime? Then make a judgment. Or look in to doing some hiring; a lot of people out looking for work. – Jeff Grzeszczak

• How about if they include ALL essential employees, to include childcare employees! – Lisa White

• I want to say as a taxpayer, voter and even more as spouse to a paramedic, I am truly disgusted in the vote made by those elected commissioners. First I want thank the honorable Eric Buckson and Jeffrey Hall for supporting our Kent County paramedics who risk their lives and in turn risk their family’s lives while they continue to work 24/7, while the county commissioners voted from their couch and the non-essential county staff are being compensated while at home. There are paramedics living in garages, campers, and hotel rooms trying to keep their family safe from this deadly virus. The paramedics went to work in good faith due to a union contract and the personnel director noting that they will get paid emergency pay because all the other county employees are safe at home. The cowardly county commissioners, personnel director, and county administrator supported taking away this pay retroactively from March 20th. This is a problem because the paramedics have a budget at home and have also suffered unexpected expenses, such as needing to find childcare while schools are closed. This is made worse by the fact that come pay day on Friday, they were expecting extra pay which will not be there! – Crystal Cottle

• Well there it is. Now watch how fast people walk off their jobs. This is shameful. – Amy Fritchman

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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