Lake County considering $1,200 bonus for workers during early days of COVID

Eligible full-time Lake County employees could receive a $1,200 bonus each as recognition and reward for working through the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.

A special county board committee considering how to spend remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds has recommended the bonus to cover about 1,000 workers as "premium pay."

A line item of $1.2 million for that purpose is included in a package of about $34.2 million of coronavirus recovery plan funds being considered for allocation.

The list of appropriations will be discussed Thursday morning by the county board's financial and administrative committee at 8:30 a.m. in the 10th floor assembly room of the county government building, 18 N. County St., Waukegan. It also can be viewed remotely. Visit the county board tab at

Besides premium pay, the total to be discussed Thursday includes a variety of other projects and initiatives. The full county board will take official action Tuesday.

Lake County received $135.3 million in ARPA funding for various needs through 2026. So far, about $90.4 million has been appropriated and the process to designate remaining available funds has continued for the past year and a half.

A recommended list of 23 projects, initiatives and allocations emerged after review by a five-member special committee on April 21 and April 28 and included proposals from outside agencies, suggested modifications and new items. The five members also are on the seven-member financial and administrative committee so major changes aren't expected.

Recommended funding covers a variety of health and wellness programs; broadband-related planning and service; the expansion of the Depke Juvenile Complex center, additional funding for the planned Emergency Operations Center in Libertyville and design for a sanitary sewer in the Chain O' Lakes area; a tree initiative; and, on-demand ballot printing capabilities.

Premium pay was suggested for consideration by county board members Marah Altenberg of Buffalo Grove, Carissa Casbon of Gurnee and Esiah Campos of Round Lake Beach.

ARPA funds can be used to provide premium pay to eligible workers performing essential work, according to county officials involved in the program.

On April 21, the special committee was in general agreement workers should be recognized and get a bonus but asked for options on the amount and how it should be distributed.

"We have to show in some measure how much we value these people," Casbon, who is not on either committee, said at the time.

"This is a real opportunity for us to reward good," added Michael Danforth, a special committee member from Fox River Grove. "It's recognition of a job well done."

One sticking point was whether some employees, such as health care workers, sheriff's deputies or jail employees who faced more exposure and risk than others should get a larger amount.

On April 28, a majority of special committee members recommended all county staff except management who completed "essential work" between March 16, 2020 and November 2020 receive $1,200.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker gives a COVID-19 update on April 12, 2020. Lake County officials are considering a $1,200 bonus each for eligible full-time county employees as recognition and reward for working through the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. Courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago
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