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Berkeley County Council votes to use COVID relief funds to give employees one-time payment

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Deputies with the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office along with some other first responders with the county are slated to receive a one-time payment of $3,000 through the county's COVID relief funds. File/Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

MONCKS CORNER — Berkeley County is joining other local governments in using COVID-19 relief funds to support its employees with a one-time payment. 

The county was allocated more than $44 million in COVID relief funds through the American Rescue Plan Act. It's a $1.9 trillion federal bill that was passed to support economic recovery during the pandemic. 

Berkeley County Council on Nov. 22 voted to approve the one-time payment of $2,000 to all of the county's full-time employees and $500 to all of the temporary and part-time staff members. 

Employees with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office, emergency medical services, the county Coroner's Office and staff members with the county jail will receive a higher payment of $3,000. 

Officials said the goal is to recognize first responders in the county. Several deputies were in attendance during the Nov. 22 meeting to hear the news. 

"The deputies didn't get to put plexiglass in front of them," said Councilman Josh Whitley. "We cherish y'all staying with the county." 

The payments are slated to be dispersed on Dec. 8. More than $2.6 million of the county's COVID relief funds will be used on the one-time payments. 

On the decision to pay some first responders more, council members said they don't want it to seem like they don't value their other county employees. Instead, they just wanted to recognize those first responders who had to be exposed more throughout the pandemic.

Whitley, who is also the finance chairman, said he knows deputies could potentially make more in other counties, so he said he and others are thankful that they continue to work with Berkeley. 

"I wish we could give you a lot more," Councilman Tommy Newell said. 

Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis thanked the council for its decision. He also said that his deputies have been waiting on something like this without complaints.

"They continue to do their job every day, every night," he said. 

Lewis instructed council members to distribute the funds at his office to the chief deputy and those that fall below that rank. 

The council also amended the payment approval to include elected officials, such as the county coroner, auditor and treasurer. Council members will be excluded from receiving any of the payments. 

Whitley said he knows there might be complaints about them voting to include elected officials. While he said the council may not deserve those funds, there are others that do. 

"I have no qualm with including elected officials," he said. 

The county joins the Moncks Corner Town Council, which voted Nov. 16 to give its full-time employees a one-time $2,000 payment using federal COVID funds. 

Reach Jerrel Floyd at 843-937-5558. Follow him on Twitter @jfloyd134.

Jerrel Floyd is an Alabama raised reporter who covers Summerville and Dorchester County for The Post and Courier.

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