Houlton employees receive early Christmas gift

2 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — Christmas came early to all full-time employees for the town of Houlton.

A total of 47 town employees received an extra $1,000 bonus in their paychecks this past week as “premium pay” for those who worked throughout the pandemic.

The Town Council approved the bonus on Dec. 13 at the request of Houlton Town Manager Marian Anderson.

“We are authorized to offer those folks who worked during the pandemic premium pay,” Anderson said. “We worked with other communities and Aroostook County to see what the standard rate of pay that they have been using.”

The money for the bonuses came from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan Act, which was signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021. That fund guaranteed direct relief to cities, towns and villages in the United States.

The $1,000 bonus was for full-time employees who were employed by the town between March 2020 and March 2021. Eligible employees included those in the town office, police department, public works, fire department and recreation department.

“We also have some regular full-time, part-time employees that I would like to look at compensation for as well,” Anderson said. “In my mind, anybody that worked during the pandemic was critical and essential to the operation of the town.”

In the letter to employees, the town wrote, “On behalf of the Houlton Town Council, I would like to thank all of you, for your extraordinary efforts to provide exceptional service to the people of the town of Houlton through the uncertainty of the Coronavirus pandemic. Every one of you contributed to the ability of the town to continue to provide uninterrupted services during the time of March 2020 through March 2021.”

The letter, which was included in the employees paychecks, also said: “This $ 1,000 premium pay recognizes your faithful and loyal service to the people of Houlton. Thank you for your dedication and please accept this as an expression of the Town Council’s appreciation.”

Members of the town council were unanimously in favor of the bonuses, with Chairman Chris Robinson asking the town manager to make sure the money was received prior to Christmas.