Clayton County considers possible hazard pay for first responders -- and not everyone is on board

Clayton County considers possible hazard pay for first responders -- and not everyone is on board
FILE: Clayton County leaders will decide if first responders will get hazard pay in the fight against coronavirus. (WSBTV.com News Staff)

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — Clayton County leaders will decide if first responders will get hazard pay in the fight against coronavirus.

Channel 2’s Sophia Choi has learned that not everyone is on board with it.

The chairman of the Clayton County Board of Commissioners says the county simply doesn’t have the money to give out with a shaky financial future ahead.

Content Continues Below

Clayton County Deputy Kali Huitt told Choi that his dangerous job is now scary not knowing who has COVID-19.

“Five hundred dollars would be great. A lot of people don’t understand what we put our lives through each and every day,” Huitt said. “Especially at the times when we have to go hands on. That’s really scary, because you just don’t know.”

RELATED HEADLINES:

What Huitt does know is a lot of spouses of first responders are now out of a job.

“A lot has been lost during this time, that folks are really in need,” Huitt said.

That’s why Clayton County Commissioner Felicia Franklin Warner wants to give hazard pay to first responders.

“Five hundred dollars a month for at least two months,” Franklin Warner said.

But commission chair Jeff Turner says they're already getting hazard pay in the form of annual leave, or vacation time.

“Every hour that they work they will receive an additional one hour of annual leave. So, at the end of a 40-hour week, they will get an additional 40 hours of annual leave to go with that,” Turner said.

Turner plans to vote no on the proposal, saying the county simply cannot afford $500,000 in hazard pay each month.

“When we’re looking at that budget, we already know that sales, revenues are going to be down. Property sales are going to be down. So, we’re going to have a negative impact,” Turner said.

Franklin Warner said despite that concern, the county should find a way.

“They’re fighting an enemy that they cannot see. And there’s a lot of unknowns. And this would go a long way,” Franklin Warner said.

“With the COVID-19, everything is really enhanced now,” Huitt said.

Other metro areas are already giving hazard pay, like DeKalb County and the City of Atlanta. Fulton County is looking to do the same.

Franklin Warner said she got the idea for hazard pay after holding a virtual town hall with 1,100 residents. She said the No. 1 question asked: What are you doing for our first responders?

The commission was expected to vote on the measure Tuesday night, but it was tabled for later discussion.

Eligible employees will be compensated an additional $500 per month.