Wabash city employees who worked in person and not remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic will soon see a one-time stipend in their pay.

The ordinance was approved during Tuesday’s Wabash City Council meeting.

The funding comes from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP), which was enacted March 11.

The city then adopted an ordinance creating the ARP Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund.

The city appropriated $100,000 to respond to the public health emergency with respect to nonprofits. The city also appropriated $210,000 for premium pay for full time, essential employees who worked in person and not remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 at $2,500 per employee, and for any part-time essential employees who worked in person and did not work remotely at $500 per employee.

“To be eligible for premium pay, the recipient must be a person who was employed at any time between March 12, 2020, and the present who is also still employed at the time payment of the premium pay is made or was a part-time seasonal employee who worked during the summer or fall of 2020 and also worked the summer 2021 or is working the fall of 2021,” stated the ordinance.

The city also appropriated the balance of the ARP fund to make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.

Before the vote was taken, at large councilmember Bryan Dillon said he wondered if there was a way to also compensate those who did work from home during this time from some other city-controlled fund.

Clerk-treasurer Wendy Frazier said that would not be legal.

“When I reopened city hall there were certain members who chose not to return to the building to return, but rather work remotely after that,” said Mayor Scott Long.

City attorney Douglas C. Lehman said the “purpose of the ARC fund is basically to recognize those who risked their life by continuing to come in and working.”

“Whereas those who were left at home, they continued to get paid, but had the advantage of not being exposed like those who had to come into the office,” said Lehman.

The measure was then approved unanimously on the first reading. The rules were then suspended to allow the measure to be approved on the second reading at the same meeting. It was then once again approved unanimously.

After the vote, Long said payroll for this week had already been completed, so the amounts would likely should up on employees’ checks in about two weeks or so.

Rob Burgess, Wabash Plain Dealer editor, may be reached by email at rburgess@wabashplaindealer.com.