Purcellville Staff Approved for ARPA Bonus Pay

The Purcellville Town Council has approved spending $272,000 of its American Rescue Plan Act allocation to provide hazard pay to the town’s front line employees who worked through the pandemic.

The action was applauded, literally, by a cadre of town police officers who attended Tuesday’s work session to watch the debate on the measure. 

There wasn’t much debate, as all council members lined up behind the proposal.

Under the action, members of the Police Department will get $7,500 bonuses, $5,000 will go to workers in the utility, maintenance, and IT departments, and those working in customer services positions will get $2,000 each. In all, 58 of the town’s 85 employees qualified for the bonus payments. 

Town Manager David A. Mekarski said the employees put themselves at risk to keep the town operations going during the pandemic.

“We take the COVID crisis for granted, but I cannot emphasize enough or explain to you what it was like pre-vaccination in March [2020] when we declared an emergency,” he told the council. “We had 85 employees who stood up to the challenge to do two things: to maintain the continuity of government, and for the delivery of services.”

While some employees were able to work at home or otherwise isolate from the threat of exposure, “we couldn’t do that for the line workers in the police department, in public works, in water and wastewater and in maintenance,” he said.

Mekarski noted the police department pivoted from a three-shift daily schedule to a two shift, 12 hours on/12 hours off schedule in its efforts to keep an adequate number of officers on duty. Other departments, including the utility crews, have few members, requiring an all-hands-on-deck approach. 

Police Chief Cynthia McAlister said the council’s action was important to recognize the extraordinary efforts of her team. “Thank you for honoring them in that way,” she said.

The action followed a recent update in the guidance on how localities may use the ARPA funds to retain and compensate public sector employees. 

Purcellville is receiving $10.6 million through ARPA in two payments, one already in hand and one coming next summer. Most of the first tranche—$3,959,941 of $5,279,922—will be used for utility projects including the construction of a new water storage tank, an upgrade to the wastewater treatment plant control system, repairs to the Hirst Reservoir, and replacement of the water main from the water treatment plant.

During Tuesday’s work session the council, at the recommendation of Mayor Kwasi Fraser, voted to shift the cost of renovating and expanding the Police Station from town funds to ARPA money. That project is budgeted for $800,000, but the architects recently warned that construction likely will cost considerably more because of market conditions. Staff members noted that there was a chance federal auditors may not sign off on the use of ARPA money for the project because the work is being done in leased space not owned by the town, an effort to address the department’s needs until a new police station is built. 

The council also voted to boost its planned use of APRA money to provide assistance to small businesses, households, and nonprofits to $433,884. The town has not yet determined how that money will be used or distributed. 

The council is continuing to determine how to use the just over $1 million remaining unallocated in the first tranche, with the staff recommending a series of utility and security updates. 

3 thoughts on “Purcellville Staff Approved for ARPA Bonus Pay

  • 2022-01-27 at 6:45 pm

    With all due respect, forget about the bonuses & direct more funds to housing & utility assistance for lower-income residents. The folks getting these bonuses already take in handsome salaries. Meanwhile, some folks don’t know whether they’ll have a roof over their head in the coming months. Enough of the cronyism. Let’s use the ARPA funds for those desperately in need.

    • 2022-01-29 at 8:59 am

      LCPS pays their staff “handsome(ly).”
      And paid their staff bonuses.

      Didn’t see you whinging that.

    • 2022-01-30 at 1:23 pm

      Hey Timmy, Nice to see you Back the Blue….NOT. Do you know the starting salary for a new Purcellville Policer Officer? It is about 50K a year.

      The median household income in Loudoun County is about 150K a year.

      You believe it is cronyism to give a bonus to the Cops that did NOT work from home during the height of the Pandemic. These Cops were still responding to calls such as a domestic dispute…which still occurred during the lockdowns, or people in mental crisis…which increased during the Pandemic, etc.,

      These FRONT Line Cops deserve this bonus!!

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