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Howard County to give emergency one-time bonuses to essential employees, including first responders

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball signed an executive order Thursday to give a one-time discretionary bonuses to county employees who are performing essential work during the coronavirus pandemic.

The executive order includes firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, law enforcement officers, correctional officers, 911 operators, public works personnel and emergency management personnel. Full-time on-site personnel will receive $1,500 and employees who are intermittently on-site will receive $600.

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“I’m incredibly grateful for the extraordinary efforts of our workforce to keep everyone in our community safe, ensure the welfare of our residents and provide the essential services that our community relies upon,” Ball said in a statement.

“We recognize the dedication and commitment of our employees and appreciate their patience as we’ve navigated this uncertain time. We want to do what’s right and keep our workers safe as they serve our community.”

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The executive order comes more than a week after the state announced they would increase the salaries of about 15,000 frontline workers by $3.13 per hour. The eligible state employees are said to receive the bonus until May 5.

In Howard County, the one-time payments for eligible employees will go out May 8.

"Our members are on the front lines, facing this crisis head on while their home life and family hardships are forced to take a backseat,” said Rich Ruehl, president of the Howard County Professional Fire Fighters Association. “They remain committed to the protection of Howard County residents and visitors, even at great personal risk.”

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. announced a similar program on April 3, giving $200 per two-week pay period until the end of Olszewski’s declaration of emergency, or up to five pay periods, for essential, public-facing employees. Other employees who can’t telework are eligible for $100 per two-week pay period.

“Our public-facing employees are on the front lines of this crisis, and their extraordinary efforts deserve recognition and compensation,” Olszewski said. “I know I speak for all of Baltimore County when I say we are incredibly grateful for their dedication to keeping our communities safe and healthy during this challenging time.”

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