After some debate, the Athens City Council reached consensus to provide additional money for city employees in advance of Christmas.

As part of its consent agenda, the council approved an employee bonus at last week’s meeting.

The original recommendation from City Manager C. Seth Sumner was for the council to approve a $500 bonus for full-time employees and a $250 bonus for part-time employees.

Sumner noted that city employees did receive a salary increase this year. He added that a council member had proposed this one-time bonus to help employees mitigate the current high rate of inflation.

“We do have growth in sales tax revenues to cover that expenditure,” said Sumner.

During discussion, both Council Member Dick Pelley and Vice Mayor Mark Lockmiller asked for Sumner’s recommendation to be modified.

Lockmiller asked to amend the original motion to exclude Sumner from receiving the bonus. Pelley further requested that department heads also be excluded and to increase the bonus payment for “hourly” employees to $1,000.

“The salary discrepancy between our department heads and our working men and women is considerable, and I think $1,000 at Christmas for our hourly employees makes a big, big difference for them,” said Pelley.

Lockmiller then made a motion to amend the original motion to exclude the city manager and department heads from receiving the bonus. Pelley seconded this motion.

Sumner asked Lockmiller if he would consider including the department heads in the bonus payment, while still excluding Sumner.

“The City of Athens has never treated one of our public servants differently than another,” said Sumner.

Lockmiller agreed to include department heads in his motion, but Pelley refused to provide a second. Council Member Frances Witt McMahan seconded the motion, which did not increase the bonus payment from what was originally recommended.

Lockmiller’s motion to amend passed, 4-1, with Pelley casting the dissenting vote. The full consent agenda, including the amended item regarding bonuses, passed by the same 4-1 tally.

Email: andy.brusseau@

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