The Knox County Commissioners voted unanimously Sept. 14 to grant bonuses to its emergency communications staff.

The dispatchers in the Knox County Regional Communications Center will receive $200 per week throughout the remainder of 2021. The payments are retroactive to May 30. The motion made at the meeting incorrectly stated that the $200 would be per pay period but Administrator Andrew Hart said it would be $200 per week as was granted to other employees.

Commissioners also agreed to provide the $200 weekly bonuses to two employees in the emergency management agency department and two workers in the information technology department.

On June 30, commissioners approved using some of the county’s $7.7 million in federal aid — known as the American Rescue Plan — for retention bonuses for corrections officers, patrol officers and civil process servers. That consisted of $200 extra per pay period through the end of 2021.

The estimated cost of the bonuses is $431,000. The ARP is the federal program that provides grants to states, counties and municipalities, and was approved by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden earlier this year.

On July 13, however, commissioners declined when asked to extend those bonuses to employees at Knox County Regional Communications. That was met by criticism from the communications director, prompting the commissioners to agree to revisit the request.

At the Sept. 14 meeting, commissioners also talked at length about how to proceed on use of its remaining $7.7 million. The county has received requests totaling $13,068,706 from municipalities and organizations.

The commissioners took no action but discussed hiring a person to serve as administrator for issuing money from the county’s federal pool.

Commissioners also discussed holding a meeting where the people requesting grants from the county could make brief presentations. No decisions were made but commissioners expect to discuss the matter again at its October meeting.

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