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Eaton County employees to receive biannual retention bonus

Pixabay Creative Commons

Eaton County has reached an agreement to give its employees a biannual recruitment and retention bonus.

The plan will provide county employees with a $2,500 bonus every six months for the next two years. The bonus is especially aimed at retaining law enforcement personnel.

Earlier this year, Eaton County sheriff Tom Reich said the office was facing staffing issues. He asked the county's Board of Commissioners to offer a $10,000 bonus to deputies to bolster recruitment and retention efforts.

The board declined to back that request and opted to reopen contract negotiations to approve a smaller bonus for employees.

Eaton County Board of Commissioners Chair Jeremy Whittum said he expects several county employees to leave, with some sheriff's deputies retiring and others seeking higher-paying jobs. He says the bonus will provide an incentive for them to stay with the county.

“This bonus is specifically designed for the men and the women who keep our county functioning,” he said.

The county is using close to $2.3 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan to pay for the bonuses through 2024. Whittum called the plan "a two-year stopgap" that would only serve as a temporary solution to the problem.

He said the county needs to identify a guaranteed revenue stream for public safety and find a way to make law enforcement wages more competitive.

"You start out at $20,000 more as a state police officer than you do as an Eaton County deputy," Whittum said. "What's your incentive to come to Eaton County?”

Elected officials and judges are ineligible to receive the bonus.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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