Some Hampton Roads cities to provide hazard pay to first responders and other employees working through pandemic

Virginia News

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — First responders and other city employees in several of Hampton Roads cities could soon see a one-time hazard payment as a way to thank them for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

City councils in Portsmouth, Norfolk and Virginia Beach have given the unofficial go-ahead to use the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funding to provide the one-time payday to “city employees that provide substantial in-person services that increases risk of exposure to COVID- 19.”

Hampton also recently voted and gave the official go-ahead to give some employees one-time checks.

Virginia received about $3.1 billion from the Coronavirus Relief Fund and it must only be used for purposes Congress approved. Virginia has distributed the money to localities based on population.

On Tuesday, Virginia Beach’s council is expected to vote to approve spending $4.5 million of the more than $78.6 million it’s slated to receive in order to give hazard pay to 2,273 employees.

Police, fire, EMS, and sheriff’s deputies will receive between $1,000 and $2,000 in hazard pay
depending on rank. All those eligible employees in Health and Human Services will be given $1,500.

In Norfolk, a $2,000 one-time check will come to all those in similar positions and all employees will be given a $250 in “Thank-you pay.”

In Portsmouth, the city plans to use approximately $1.6 million to give $2,000 to all its full-time sworn public safety officers and 911 dispatchers.

Councilman Nathan Clark originally wanted an increase in base pay for the group, but settled for the one-time payments with hopes permanent raises could be given later in the year.

“We’ve had several first responders that had to go into quarantine because they either tested positive or came in contact with someone who was positive,” Clark said. “Part of the underlying that you don’t see is that this affects their families as well. Because the potential for taking this home to their family members is a very serious possibility. And you know the police and firefighters they have to respond to calls to assist our citizens on a daily basis.”

Full-time waste management employees and all public works, social services and parks and recreation employees in Portsmouth will receive $1,500. Part-time employees in those departments receive half that amount.

In Hampton, the city council approved $2.6 million last week for eligible employees to receive up to $2,000 on Friday, Aug. 21.

“On behalf of a very grateful Council, Executive Leadership Team and community, I want to say thank you for the extra level of excellence and dedication you all have shown throughout the pandemic,” said Hampton City Manager Mary Bunting. “I wish the federal law allowed us to give all of our employees some level of enhanced COVID-related pay, but am truly pleased that we could at least recognize our front-line employees who have had more than general population exposure in the execution of their responsibilities.”

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