Visalia offers bonuses to every city employee

Full-time staff will receive an extra $2,000, part-time an extra $500 and seasonal employees an extra $200 on their next paycheck

VISALIA – Employees of the city of Visalia will have extra money in their next paycheck.

The Visalia City Council approved one-time bonuses for all of its employees scheduled to receive a paycheck on Feb. 18. Full-time, salaried employees will receive a $2,000 bonus, part-time employees working a consistent schedule of 15-20 hours per week will receive $500 and hourly employees working seasonally, youth sports officials or those working minimal hours will receive a $200 bonus. The city estimates there are 610 full-time employees, 150 part-time employees, and 100 employees considered less than part-time who will receive the bonus.

The only city employees who will not receive a bonus are retired city employees receiving pension benefits from CalPERS, any employees who will be receiving a check through another system, such as disability, and seasonal employees not on the city’s payroll for Feb. 18. 

City Manager Leslie Caviglia said the city was in a solid financial position at the halfway point in the fiscal year and wanted to recognize the employees’ hard work during a time when each dollar has less purchasing power. 

“We wanted to recognize the city’s valued employees during this time of rising costs and inflation that we are experiencing right now,” Caviglia said. 

The bonuses will cost the city between $1.2 and $1.3 million total. None of the bonuses will be paid using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and instead will be paid out of funds for specific departments where the workers are employed. ARPA funds are being used to offset payroll and benefit costs for public safety employees who worked more hours and extra shifts to cover those exposed, quarantining or sick with COVID-19 throughout the pandemic. The council authorized for half of its $30 million in ARPA funds to be spent on costs for police, fire and paramedics. 

The city estimates $722,000 will be paid from the General Fund and the remainder from Special Revenues Funds, Internal Services Funds and Enterprise Funds.

“This is the only discretionary bonus I can remember in the last few years,” Caviglia said. The city has offered incentive bonuses in the past. 

The council authorized staff to move ahead with bonuses during its closed session agenda on Dec. 20 following a conference with labor negotiators that involved all bargaining units. Staff then obtained agreement with unrepresented employees and represented bargaining groups by means of a “side letter,” an agreement that is not part of the primary contracts with labor unions on issues not covered by collective bargaining agreements.

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