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November 15, 2020

County employees also getting $1,000 bonuses

File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
County government’s 751 full- and part-time employees will get the bonuses in their Dec. 11 paychecks.
I’m just appalled at the position the school board has put this community position in.
— Supervisor Chris Granger (Center District)
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Like their school system counterparts, Fauquier County government employees will get $1,000 bonuses next month.

The board of supervisors voted, 5-0, Thursday night to approve the payments to 751 full- and part-time employees.

It will cost just more than $900,000 to fund the bonuses in Dec. 11 payroll checks, according to Deputy County Administrator Erin Kozanecki.

> Document at bottom of story

Before approving the payments, the supervisors praised front-line workers, particularly first responders and others who deal directly with the public as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Still, four of the five board members expressed reservations about the expenditure as fiscal uncertainty continues, with hundreds of local businesses and thousands of citizens suffering losses.

But, the school board’s action Monday night — allocating $2.8 million for bonuses to more than 1,800 who work in the county educational system — painted them into a corner, the supervisors suggested.

“That was quite a slap in the face to open FauquierNow and read that without any heads-up” on Tuesday, Supervisor Chris Butler (Lee District) said. “That’s not taking anything away from our teachers. We need them; we love them. I appreciate and support them. But, we have a lot of people on the front lines that have been getting breathed on by COVID patients . . . going into nursing homes and things like that, and now they’re kinda looking in the window wondering what happens with them.

“And, I’m kinda wondering the same thing,” Mr. Butler continued during a board work session Thursday afternoon. “I don’t know how many of you have heard from county employees, but I’ve heard from quite a few and taxpayers as well that are pretty scorched by that schools decision.”

Because of the pandemic, the supervisors in March adopted a “flat” fiscal 2021 budget that includes no raises for county government or school system employees. The new fiscal year started July 1.

Chris Granger (Center) said: “The school board’s an independent body and they can take the actions they took, but I’m a little bit offput, because we were assured on multiple occasions that they were gonna work in concert with the county because their funding is contingent upon local government funding, as well as their state sales tax returns and income tax returns to the state.

“And, everything we’re seeing out of the state, especially the last week, has been disconcerting . . . to say the least.

“I’ve expressed this to my colleague on the school board already that this was jumping the gun,” Mr. Granger added. “Nobody is discounting the work people are doing, but I’m not gonna sit up here and defend the school board’s action to our deputies, fire and rescue personnel, emergency social services workers and our staff that had to collect pieces of paper when they didn’t know if COVID was transmitted by paper about who’s worth what. It’s ridiculous, and that’s the position the school board has put us in.”

Mr. Granger suggested he would be “disinclined to approve” the school board’s request to keep $2.6 million unspent from its fiscal 2020 budget.

“I think it as a gross assumption to just assume we were gonna approve the money,” he said. “I’m just appalled at the position the school board has put this community position in.”

The Center District supervisor said it would have been more prudent to consider bonuses or cost-of-living raises when state government’s financial situation becomes clearer early next year.

Holder Trumbo agreed but said, “The horse is already out of the barn.”

Many county citizens in the private sector have taken pay cuts or lost their jobs, Mr. Trumbo added.

“I can’t agree more,” Rick Gerhardt (Cedar Run) said. “I find it appalling the school board took the action they did and the way they handled it. They put us in a precarious position with our own employees.”

But, four hours later, the supervisors unanimously approved the plan for “carryover funds,” including bonuses for county government employees and the school board’s request to keep its $2.6-million surplus.

The way it happened, however, probably will further strain relations between the school board and supervisors early next year when they start fiscal 2022 budget deliberations — frequently tense discussions.

The supervisors control local funding of public schools, $93.1 million or 65 percent of this year’s total budget $151.9 million for education in Fauquier.

Contact Editor “Lou” Emerson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-1845.

FY 2020 Carryover Presentat... by Fauquier Now

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2sDay · November 17, 2020 at 10:37 am
I find it hard to accept that teachers and public employees, two groups that retained employment during the pandemic, are receiving a bonus when this money was intended to help people through the financial and/or health crisis resulting from the shutdowns and virus spread. I know many people had a lot of extra stress put on them and worked hard to meet demand, but that's what being a public servant is about; this is when you step up. That bonus money could have done a lot of good to people facing homelessness as a result of job loss, assisted with childcare costs that have increased because the schools have shut down, provided food for those in need, or done dozens of other things.
Savefauquiercounty2019 · November 15, 2020 at 6:10 pm
I applaud these bonuses. We need to take every measure in retaining our teachers. They never stop. We love you all. Now go home on time and take care of yourself and your families.
Jerome Fields · November 15, 2020 at 3:20 pm
This also happened at that Board meeting:

"Vehicle license registration fee repealed -

At the request of Fauquier County Commissioner of the Revenue Eric Maybach, supervisors unanimously to repeal the annual vehicle license fee for county residents. There are more than 85,000 vehicles currently subject to the fee, which is $25 per year for motor vehicles and $15 for motorcycles.

Maybach said Thursday that the tax revenue lost because of the repeal will be made up by a change in how vehicle values are assessed for personal property tax purposes. “It moves it to a more fair evaluation method,” Maybach said, adding that he estimates 83% of county residents will actually pay less even though the valuation of their vehicles is likely to increase.

Because the current annual fee is the same no matter the value of the vehicle, county residents pay the same license registration fee whether their vehicle is worth $1,000 or $80,000, for instance."
Stacy · November 15, 2020 at 11:29 am
It’s funny how EVERY SITUATION always comes back to the argument that teachers don’t deserve this or that because they are “working from home” or were “paid the whole time”. What people don’t realize is, teachers never stopped working! Even over the summer, most of the time was spent coming up with lesson plans that would work with obstacles. Re-doing lesson plans, and re-doing them again when we were switched to all virtual. IEP’s have been re-written at least 3-4 times since March, and that is no small feat considering the amount of sped kiddos on each teachers work load. Plus you add in the grading and other paperwork, there isn’t enough time in the day. We have been required to work from our schools, while virtual unless there was a medical reason. But even the home bound teachers have put in just as much time as the ones at school. This type of teaching is twice as much work as before Covid, and still (some) parents do not take our health into consideration. At this stage of the game, we still should not have to be defending ourselves to ANYONE. Chances are things will change again come the new year if not sooner and once again, teachers will have to scramble to make things work, whether it’s recognized or appreciated. The 1k was given as a deterrent to more teachers quitting, because the SB and the powers to be know that more work is once again coming our way. That in no way diminishes the fact that first responders deserve that and more. And let it be known, it is not the first time the SB has been sneaky about something... it’s a shame the world we are raising our kids in now.
RGLJA · November 15, 2020 at 8:30 am
The school board votes to give everybody $1000, so the county government votes to give everyone $1000 too. I'm just a taxpayer, but I think I'll tell my boss on Monday that my family carefully considered our options and we all voted that my employer must issue a $1000 bonus for each of us. I'll let you know how that works out.
flisterone · November 14, 2020 at 12:17 pm
I guess their mothers never taught them that "two wrongs don't make a right." It's time for new leadership, Fauquier.
Mark House · November 14, 2020 at 11:19 am
lhfry - Teachers are never paid enough for the work they do, the babysitting they do, the compassion and security they show and give our children.

We as a nation think it's OK to pay sports players $$$$ because they entertain us, but no way does a teacher deserve a bonus or raise. They are the guardians of our children when not in our care. That to me deserves more than a passing grade from parents and tax payers.
R Stephens · November 14, 2020 at 5:58 am
Such childish behavior on the part of the Board of Supervisors, to make a decision to spend nearly $1MM of the taxpayers' hard-earned money in the midst of the current economic environment, simply because someone else made a bad decision. I guess their mothers never taught them that "two wrongs don't make a right." It's time for new leadership, Fauquier.
Linda Ward · November 13, 2020 at 7:19 pm
It's not the Federal Government or Trump who need to be thanked for the $6 million, they didn't do anything but sign a paper.

It's the millions of taxpaying citizens (of which Trump isn't unless you call paying $750 in taxes enough for a wealthy person) that provided that money to help struggling businesses, families and individuals impacted.

Give credit where credit is due.
FalconDad · November 13, 2020 at 6:37 pm
Our county received over $6 million from the Federal government (Trump) to help combat Covid which includes help for struggling businesses, families and individuals that are financially impacted by the Covid pandemic. If our county is so rich now that all county employees deserve a Christmas bonus I guess that’s OK, but it’s not Covid related financial support. I guess it could help county employees that had a spouse lose their job.
lhfry · November 13, 2020 at 4:44 pm
I find the bonuses for teachers hard to swallow. These people have been getting paid throughout as far as I know while many many others have lost jobs and income. First responders yes but no one who has been able to work from home should get any extra money.
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