WOODSTOCK — The Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously agreed to advertise a public hearing regarding the payment of one-time bonuses for certain public safety personnel that could cost the county over $300,000.
The bonuses, if approved as advertised, would provide $3,000 bonuses to 134 of the county’s paid first responders — including the Sheriff's Office 66 sworn staff and the 68 operational fire and rescue personnel — identified as holding positions of “high exposure risk” in the county’s Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan.
County supervisors and County Administrator Evan Vass closed Tuesday’s discussion intent on holding a public hearing regarding the proposed bonuses at the board's Nov. 9 meeting. The board will vote on the bonus during that same meeting.
Supervisors’ consideration of the bonuses comes as the Virginia General Assembly recently approved one-time, $3,000 bonuses to state Compensation Board-funded sworn positions in sheriffs’ offices and regional jails, including sheriffs, sheriffs’ deputies and regional jail superintendents and corrections officers. Such staff members must have served in a sworn position in the office or regional jail for at least 231 hours to receive the bonus.
Just over half — 36 — of the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office’s 66 sworn staff positions are at least partially funded by Virginia’s Compensation Board and would receive that $3,000 bonus through state funds. The remaining 30 positions are locally funded and ineligible to receive the state bonus.
To make up for that discrepancy, both within the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office and in the broader scope of the county's public safety services, the supervisors began discussions at its last meeting about committing local funds to provide matching $3,000 bonuses to first responders not eligible for the state bonus. Sheriff Tim Carter encouraged the board to take this approach.
Vass shared told supervisors on Tuesday it would cost $432,753 to provide bonuses to all 134 first responders. This would cost the county $316,491 after a $116,262 reimbursement from the compensation board for the 36 state-funding Sheriff's Office positions.
County costs would include $96,885 for the 30 locally funded Sheriff’s Office sworn staff and $219,606 for the 68 fire and rescue personnel. That includes $22,491 in Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes.
American Rescue Plan Act money could be used to fund the bonuses, Vass said. Bonus payments to compensation board-funded sworn positions must be made by Nov. 30, he added.
Also on Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors discussed the supplemental appropriation of $142,000 to the Conservation Easement Authority, which the CEA could leverage for matching funds from the Virginia Office of Farmland Preservation grant program. No action was taken during the discussion.
The board also declined to move forward on a citizen's request to fund the installation and ongoing costs of public street lighting on Lutz Hollow Road, which Vass described as an unimproved road in rural Mount Jackson.
Supervisors unanimously voted to reappoint Jenna French and Chris Kyle to serve on the Shenandoah Valley Partnership Board and to reappoint Pete Shoemaker to the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Steve Baker, Vice Chairman Dennis Morris and supervisors Josh Stephens, Brad Pollack, Karl Roulston and Tim Taylor attended Tuesday’s meeting.