HAMLET — Mayor Pro Tem Jonathan Buie was in a giving mood — and was dressed for the occasion — Tuesday night, proposing to award city employees a $100 gift card as a Christmas bonus, then made a motion to simply award a check of $110 to make sure they got at least the full century after taxes and to avoid gift card fees.
The check will go out to all 96 full-time city employees, and the 10 part-time employees, this week, according to City Manager Jonathan Blanton.
“I don’t think a lot of people realize how much money our directors, our chiefs both of police and fire, our staff…save for the city of Hamlet,” Buie said.
Last year city employees received a $250 net bonus check to make up for the fact that they didn’t get a cost-of-living raise until February, Blanton said. Initially Buie planned to award them a $50 net bonus to save money on taxes, but after consulting with Blanton and other city staff, determined that this amount would still be taxed and was low relative to the previous year.
Buie said that a $100 net bonus check was an “in-between point” of what they gave the year before and the initial target for this year.
“We allow them to (purchase) their own equipment…(which) saved the city money I just feel it’s right to give back to them,” Buie said. “Because we gave them $250 last year, 50 was kind of low and because we did have a year that we bought a lot of equipment for the fire department and everybody in the public works… $50 was a low-ball figure for everything they’ve really done and I knew that we could withstand at least $100.”
The annual city audit showed that the city has “very little debt,” according to auditor Ken Anderson. He said this year there was a net debt decrease by $101,655.
Earlier in the meeting, Mayor Bill Bayless, Buie and fellow council members Jesse McQueen and Eddie Martin took their oaths of office after being re-elected last month.
Buie wore a white coat with a Christmas tree and red reindeer pattern, matched with a red tie, red pants, all topped off with a Santa Claus hat. He said he wore the same one last year and it’s time to get a new one.
“It’s just fun, you know?” he said. “Not everything has to be serious.”
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