Jul 11, 2023 - News

Atlanta approves bonuses for city employees

Illustration of a quarter as the earmuff of a woman's headset.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Atlanta has a new trick up its sleeve for convincing its employees to stick around: bonuses.

Driving the news: The City Council last week approved two ordinances to fund Atlanta's retention bonus program.

  • A $2,000 bonus will be given to employees who earn $71,000 or below.
  • E911 employees who were hired as of July 1 will receive a $2,500 bonus.
  • The bonuses are not for sworn employees of the Atlanta Police and Atlanta Fire Rescue departments.

Of note: Both groups will receive the bonuses provided that they remain with the city for an additional year.

By the numbers: The city of Atlanta has 8,932 employees, city spokesperson Michael Smith told Axios. Of that, there are 2,868 vacancies.

  • Smith said some of those vacancies are not funded in the budget.

What they're saying: Mayor Andre Dickens said in a statement that a "dedicated workforce is the backbone of an effective and ethical government."

  • "These retention and incentive bonuses will help say thanks and retain world-class employees and continue to compete with the private and other sectors," he said.

The ordinances were sponsored by Council members Jason Winston and Michael Julian Bond.

Context: The bonuses are just one initiative Atlanta has undertaken to keep employees on the payroll. In November, the city announced it would invest $9.3 million to increase pay and make cost-of-living adjustments for its workforce.

  • That came on top of a cost-of-living adjustment and raises for firefighters that were approved last year when the Council adopted the fiscal year 2023 budget.

Zoom out: The city isn't the only entity working to retain its employees. Cobb County officials spent millions in 2022 on bonuses, raises, a pay study and job fairs to help fill shortages.

  • However, according to the AJC, the county's staffing woes have "worsened," with a 15% vacancy rate among its full-time positions.
  • DeKalb County last November approved one-time $1,500 bonuses for most of its employees.

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