Fargo rewards more than 900 employees with $1,000 bonuses
Leftover COVID relief funds from 2020 will be used to pay for the $943,250 in bonuses.
FARGO — City employees here received a late Christmas present on Monday night, Dec. 27.
With Fargo city commissioners praising the work of the city staff during the pandemic of the past 21 months, they voted 4-1 to approve $943,250 in bonuses to 967 full-time and part-time employees.
City Commissioner John Strand said his elected board has been discussing with administrators and Mayor Tim Mahoney what they could do to show their appreciation.
"We talked about what do good employers do to tell their employees they really care for them, respect them, honor them and appreciate them," Strand said. "Life is more than a paycheck. It's a culture. It's feeling like you fit in. It's being appreciated. It's being valued.
"We've all been through a really challenging time. If we don't have good people, we don't have good results," Strand added. "This is just a small token in the big picture of the services we deliver to the people. We have some absolutely amazing people."
He said the city would use unspent COVID relief funds from 2020 through the CARES Act.
City Finance Director Kent Costin explained that the city received about $15.9 million in that first round of COVID relief funds and about $5 million was carried over and remains unspent.
Costin said it doesn't include the funds from this past year's American Rescue Plan package that will deliver additional aid.
Mayor Tim Mahoney said the city runs 24/7, 365 days a year just like a hospital.
"It's amazing what they (city employees) do for our community," Mahoney said. "We felt strongly this is something we wanted to do."
Commissioner Arlette Preston said it's "a perfect use" of COVID money as city employees have been taking on additional work because of the pandemic.
Commissioner Tony Gehrig, the lone vote against the bonuses, said he also appreciates the employees.
But he said the almost $1 million gift was "no small amount of money outside of the budget cycle."
He preferred instead offering employees an extra day off work.
"I don't think it's a prudent use. I don't think there's an employer out there that would just spend a million dollars," Gehrig said. "Unrestricted spending (in the city) just keeps going."
Under the plan, more than 900 full-time employees will receive $1,000 bonuses, while 17 employees working 30 hours a week will receive $750, and 39 part-time employees working 20 hours a week will be paid an extra $500.