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After approving a budget that sees Archuleta County dipping into fund reserves in 2013 (see related article on Pg. 1), the Board of County Commissioners Tuesday approved giving year-end bonuses to county employees.
As approved, full-time employees working at the county six months or longer will receive $500, with all part-time and any full-time employees working at the county less than six months receiving $250.
All three commissioners were in favor of the bonuses, with Michael Whiting calling it a, “drop in the bucket” compared to the financial issues the county faced.
Commissioner Steve Wadley, too, favored the bonuses, noting, “I’m not even going to recommend a five-percent cut,” a statement referring to Whiting’s suggestion of a last-minute, 5.9-percent cut to the county budget earlier in the meeting.
Commission chair Clifford Lucero said 2012 may be the last year the county is able to give bonuses to employees, but added he hoped that was not true.
Opened to public comment, audience member Mark Weiler stated, “Commissioners, I’m confused.”
Weiler questioned the logic behind approving the bonuses with the 2013 budget spending reserve funds.
Diane Sorensen, finance director, clarified that the bonuses would come out of funds budgeted for 2012 that were not spent, with Weiler calling the logic “incongruent.”
Weiler suggested that, if department heads and elected officials had the capacity to save money so bonuses could be given, they should be saving money throughout the year.
Assessor Natalie Woodruff then sought to clarify the situation further.
Woodruff said that funding bonuses did not include a sudden cut in spending, but noted that, instead, not everything budgeted for came to pass.
Woodruff said she anticipates expenditures that might be needed for the year (such as staff training) when determining her department’s budget, but said that things such as staff turnover can mean an adjustment in what expenditures are necessary.
“Would I like that money to go for bonuses? Yes,” Woodruff said.
Woodruff said that, while she knows many in the private sector do not get bonuses or raises, the county’s employees work very hard for the public.
Treasurer Betty Diller followed, stating there were several ways departments could come up with funding for bonuses, explaining that, sometimes, expenses are less than anticipated or a purchase can be delayed or, in the case of her department, increased revenue is collected — also noting the latter meant the employees have to, “go above and beyond,” their regular duties.
The bonuses will be delivered to county employees today.