City Council Approves One-Time Payment for First Responders, DPW Staff Who Worked During Height of Pandemic

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WARREN, Pa. – In a measure of gratitude for police officers, firefighters, and public works staff who worked through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Warren City Council unanimously approved a one-time $1,000 payment during a special meeting Monday.

The payments will go to those police, fire, and DPW staff who were employed between March 11 and Dec. 31, 2020, and who remain employed with the City. The payments will come from the City’s remaining American Rescue Plan funds.

“I also want to take a minute to recognize the incredible work of our city staff that goes on every day in our community,” Councilman John Wortman said. “This money, I hope is a recognition of how much we as a municipal government appreciate the incredible public servants that are part of our community on a daily basis.”

Wortman, along with Councilwoman Wendy McCain introduced the idea of a special “hazard pay” during the October meeting. Council worked with city staff the last two months to reach a figure all deemed as fair for working through the period of the pandemic when no vaccine was available.

“I really want to thank everybody for your hard work,” McCain said. “My last question was going to be ‘Will this satisfy the staff?’ and it looks like it will.”

Greg Ireland, who spoke on behalf of the firefighters union, said that they “were hoping for a bit more, but something is better than nothing.”

Ireland went on to say that staff is still working through the pandemic.

“We still have issues on calls where we are still dealing with this issue,” Ireland said. “It’s not going away anytime soon.”

McCain said these payments will use approximately $58,000 of the remaining $117,000 ARP funds.

Speaking to the many fire, police, and DPW members in attendance, McCain said, “hopefully you guys know you’re appreciated. We’ll make sure that this feels that way to you.”

“We are so fortunate in the City of Warren to have officers that keep our streets safe,” Wortman said. “Firefighters and EMTs who we know will answer the call when one of our residents dials 911. Our public works to keep our infrastructure running, and our streets clean and are beautiful. And all of the other staff that works here in City Hall to ensure that these logistics can operate on a day-to-day basis.”

A number of other council members voiced their appreciation for the city staff as well.

“I’d like to echo the appreciation for all of the time, effort, sacrifice, and dedication all of our city employees put forth to keep our municipality safe, especially during the tumultuous, uncertain time,” Councilman Jared Villella said.

“I myself can see the work that you do every day and the spirit that you guys carry, and that it is appreciated, even if you’re not told,” Councilwoman Danielle Flasher said.