By Dave Fidlin
Against the backdrop of inflationary pressures that continue to pinch consumers’ pocketbooks, Whitewater officials have finalized a plan for a tiered one-time financial bonus in the new year.
The Common Council on Dec. 19 approved the bonus plan, finalizing a proposal that had been deliberated over several meetings in the final stretch of 2023.
As part of the plan in motion, all full-time municipal employees with 1 to 5 years of service will receive a $300 bonus, while full-timers with 5 or more years of service will receive a $500 bonus. Full-timers with less than a year of service will be privy to a $100 bonus.
All permanent part-time workers also will receive the bonus, based on the council’s motion. Part-timers with 5 or more years of service will receive $200, while those with 1 to 5 years of service will receive $100. Part-timers with less than a year of service will earn a $50 bonus.
City Manager John Weidl and several other leaders within city hall had proposed the bonus to the council in recent months, pointing to an anticipated financial surplus in the municipal budget at the close of 2023.
Once the revelation was made, the council’s Finance Committee had recommended setting aside for $25,000, opening the door to deliberating how the funds should be distributed across the city’s workforce.
The adopted action was one of three options presented to the council for consideration. Another option on the table considered an across-the-board $250 bonus to all full-timers and a $150 bonus to all part-timers.
Rachelle Blitch, the city’s financial and administrative services director, presented the council with a third, new option at the Dec. 18 meeting that proposed bonuses to all employees earning below $79,757, pointing out lower wage earners are most impacted from inflation.
Ultimately, council members favored the tiered structure, based on years of service.
“I’ve always been of the understanding that a bonus should benefit or reward employees that have been here, and shown dedication, back to their employer,” council member Neil Hicks said. “If you’ve been here over five years, you’ve stayed here … you should also be rewarded, in my opinion.”