West Memphis handing out holiday bonuses for city employees

WEST MEMPHIS (Evening Times) - City employees can look forward to a little something extra in their stockings just in time for the holidays this year.

With an unexpected surplus in their coffers, the West Memphis Budget Committee recommended to Mayor Bill Johnson and the City Council that city employees receive an end-of-year bonus.

"Keeping in mind that our employees have gone four years without any kind of a raise," said City Councilman Tracy Catt, "it was the feeling amongst the Budget Committees that we should take advantage of this opportunity to reward them."

"Well, I am certainly glad to be able to do it," said Johnson. "They are a part of the reason why we have this money. Our various department heads and their staffs have worked to keep expenses down over some very tight years."

As City Finance Director Frank Martin explained, every municipal employee that has been with the city for at least one year will receive a bonus of 3 percent of their annual salary, or in the case of employees on the lower end of the pay scale, a $1,000 bonus.

"We felt that that was fair to those workers," said Martin. "We felt like they could use a little more. It's a gesture of appreciation, really." In all, the bonus checks will come at a maximum cost of $490,248.

"I don't expect it to be quite that much once we start actually cutting the checks," said Martin, "but that's the high end of how much it will be." He said the checks would be issued as a separate check from the employees' regular pay, and that they should expect to see their bonuses "around the first week in December."

"In other words, it'll be in plenty of time for Christmas," said the mayor.

Mayor Johnson was also quick to point out the source of the windfall.

"It's no secret that while we have seen an increase in our sales tax revenues," he said, "the biggest reason we were able to do this is the large increase in tax revenues from Southland Park. It has been a tremendous boost to our funds."

Not attempting to be a "scrooge," but just to let employees know, City Councilwoman Lorraine Robinson pointed out an important caveat.

"Just so they know," she said, "as always the government is going to get their share. These checks will be subject to taxes and withholdings."

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