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Chandler employees get $5.5M in bonuses from pandemic savings

Chandler City Hall Complex (Facebook photo/City Government of Chandler, Arizona)

PHOENIX — More than 1,500 city of Chandler employees are splitting $5.5 million in bonuses from savings due to COVID-19 pandemic hiring freezes.

One-time “exceptional performance awards” resulted in payments of $3,000 to 1,522 full-time city employees and $1,500 to 29 part-time employees.

“We receive letters of gratitude from our citizens,” Mayor Kevin Hartke said. “Someone that helps them with a leaky water issue, as well as someone in duress and a police officer helps them on the street.”

He appreciates the sacrifices of first responders and other workers who encountered the public while COVID-19 spread.

Police and firefighters shared the bonuses, too, but their unions pressured the city council to spend more money on new hires.

They filled Chandler council chambers to make their point on Thursday night.

“We’re very careful to draw a distinction between one-time dollars and ongoing dollars in Chandler,” Hartke said. “Cities get in big problems if they don’t recognize the difference.”

Hartke hopes next year’s budget will replenish depleting ranks. Chandler has 15 police vacancies and 105 other job vacancies.

“It is a finance question, but it’s more of a supply question,” he said. “So we will look at this and at on-going dollars and see what we can do.”

In Thursday’s meeting, Police Chief Sean Duggan said what counterparts say in other cities: they’re competing amongst each other to offer better salaries and benefits to recruit new officers from decreasing applicant pools.

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