$60,000 in bonuses given to county employees

Awards were given to the top performing employees who work under AC Wharton's administration.

Those awards equal $60,000 of your money. Two-hundred and forty-one county employees got the bonus checks for $200, just in time for Christmas.

Those checks, with taxes included, totaled $60,000 in taxpayer money. But the administration -- which authorized the money - is not calling those checks Christmas bonuses.

"It wasn't a raise. It wasn't a Christmas bonus. It wasn't a Christmas gift," said County Commissioner John Willingham.

Willingham says he's still trying to figure out what the money was for.

So what do you call it when you get a check from your employer right before christmas?

"A $200 performance award for being in the top 10 percent on an evaluated basis," said County Finance Director Jim Huntzicker.

Huntzicker says the performance awards replace the county's old gift to top performing employees of two comp days. The awards came out of money budgeted for salaries.

"In the big picture, that's about 1/10 of 1 percent of our administrative payroll. And its in the basic budget," said Huntzicker.

But Willingham equates it to a bonus. Something he says in these tight budgetary times, should not be given out.

"I really don't understand that," he said. "I have a job and I get paid so much whether I work 100 hours or 40 hours."

"I think think it was a terrific move to do this. The early returns are that the employees appreciated it and we're getting better efficiencies," said Huntzicker.

Huntzicker explains that giving cash is more efficient than giving two comp days off because the county gets more value out of keeping those employees on the job, even after giving out $60,000 in awards.