FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Forsyth County commissioners formally adopted a resolution April 21 that provides $1 million in hazard pay for its employees working at elevated risk during the coronavirus pandemic.

The resolution breaks the compensation into six pay periods beginning March 16. During each of the subsequent two-week pay periods, those qualified will receive either $250 or $125 per paycheck in addition to their standard pay rate. The extra compensation runs for 90 days or sooner if the governor ends his state of emergency declaration.

The resolution authorizes Sheriff Ron Freeman to determine which employees are eligible for the bonus pay within the Sheriff’s Office. Eligibility among all other county employees will be determined by County Commission Chairwoman Laura Semanson and County Manager Eric Johnson.

The budgeted amounts, based on estimates, include an allocation of $660,000 for the Sheriff’s Office and another $340,000 available to compensate other county employees with elevated risk jobs.

At a workshop held earlier this month, county officials said much of the funding could come from departmental budgets already in place.

However, Johnson said the county is set to transfer additional funds to the Sheriff’s Office in June if the need arises. He said he does not want the sheriff to delay filling vacancies within the department to offset the added expenses incurred by the hazard pay.

Eligibility for the extra pay will be determined by using three criteria.

The highest level, with compensation of $500 a month, would include employees, such as sheriff’s deputies, whose job requires them to personally interact with people or environments that present an exposure threat.

The two other levels, each entitled to a $250 monthly stipend, include those whose job requires them to enter occupied private residences where exposure is possible. The third level includes workers whose jobs require them to operate in a setting where social distancing for a prolonged period is not possible.

“Overwhelmingly, this is public safety personnel,” Johnson said.

At its April 14 video conference work session, Sheriff Ron Freeman told commissioners he welcomed the initiative, adding his department has had eight people on quarantine and the Fire Department has also had members under quarantine.

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