Nov 29, 2022 - Politics

Denver considers one-time pandemic bonuses

Illustration of a hundred dollar bill as a surgical mask.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

City employees in Denver might see a one-time, $600 bonus for staying put.

Driving the news: The Denver City Council's finance and governance committee will consider a proposal at its Tuesday meeting to move $4.3 million from multiple departments' budgets into a pot for bonuses.

Of note: The extra pay would come from funds the city saved by not filling previously open positions, Denver's acting deputy chief financial officer Stephanie Karayannis Adams tells Axios.

  • She characterized the bonuses as showing appreciation for city staff who took on additional work due to pandemic-era vacancies across departments. Karayannis Adams does not anticipate this will be an annual program.

By the numbers: At least 8,288 city employees would be eligible, Karayannis Adams said.

  • The Denver Sheriff's Department budget would provide $1.4 million toward the bonus payments, the largest share among the seven departments where the money comes from.
  • However, those working for Denver International Airport and Denver Human Services would get bonuses from their respective agency's coffers — not the $4.3 million, which comes from the taxpayer-funded general fund.

Of note: Elected officials including City Council members and Mayor Michael Hancock aren't eligible.

  • Denver police, fire and sheriffs deputies are exempt as well, since their pay is determined by collective bargaining agreements.
  • Meanwhile, the sheriff's department offers its own retention and signing bonuses to retain deputies and fill vacancies.

What to watch: Qualifying employees must have worked for the city since before Sept. 30 and still be on its payroll when bonuses are issued next month.

  • It will need final approval from City Council.

Flashback: Council voted last year to use federal pandemic aid money to give up to $250 per month in hazard pay to some staff who worked during the height of the pandemic.

  • Multiple cities and towns in Colorado used millions of dollars in pandemic relief to give municipal workers bonuses, according to an Axios Denver investigation.
  • Denver also gave one-time, $400 bonuses for staff who got a COVID-19 vaccine last year.

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