Pitkin County workers on track to receive ‘inflation relief stipend’
Full-time county government employees would get $1,040 to ease sting of soaring cost-of-living
The Pitkin County commissioners indicated Tuesday they will approve spending about $1.1 million on “inflation relief” for employees.
In an informal vote, all four commissioners present at a work session said they support a proposed stipend to get Pitkin County government employees through a tough economic time.
“I think the Pitkin County employees deserve this,” said board chairwoman Patti Clapper.
The “inflation relief stipend” was proposed by County Manager Jon Peacock and other staff.
“Based on feedback from (an) Employee Listening Session in April 2022, there is a lot of stress among Pitkin County employees due to inflation,” said a memo to the commissioners from staff. “As an employer we have to pay attention, if not we run the risk of a distracted, stressed and therefore less productive workforce — and worse we risk losing employees to better-paying jobs in today’s hot job market.”
In a separate action, the county is conducting a pay study to see if county wages need adjustment. That will take a considerable time to complete so the staff wants near-term relief. The commissioners will formally vote on the proposal next week.
As proposed, the relief package will feature a payment of $1,040 per full-time employee spread over three installments in July, September and December. The amount would be pro-rated for employees who aren’t working full time.
The staff proposal said the case for relief is well documented.
“Nationally inflation rose by 8.5% year-over-year in March, the highest inflation rate since 1981, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,” the staff memo said. “In Colorado, inflation is even higher. Over the past 12 months the Denver-Boulder-Lakewood CPI rose 9.1%.”
The memo said it is “reasonable to speculate that in our high-cost environment inflation is even higher” in the Roaring Fork Valley.
The estimate is the stipend would cost $1.08 million. The revenues will come from sales tax revenues that are higher than expected, partially because of inflation. The county has collected $5.87 million in sales taxes through March, which is 54.4% higher than the same period in 2021. “March 2022 marks the highest monthly sales tax collections ever,” the memo said.
Commissioners Clapper, Steve Child, Kelly McNicholas Kury and Greg Poschman supported the plan. Commissioner Francie Jacober wasn’t at Tuesday’s meeting.
(Editor’s note: This article was clarified to show the relief applies to Pitkin County government employees only.)
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