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Sedgwick County critical workers to receive hazard pay during COVID-19 pandemic

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Sedgwick County commissioners voted unanimously to give more pay to first responders and critical employees during the coronavirus pandemic.

All commissioners agreed that the heroes in our community deserve to be paid more during this time, including more than 800 critical county workers.

Officials said the county has 630 critical front-facing employees who work with the public every day. They said there are 184 rear-facing employees who don’t interact with the public on a daily basis but are vital to the safety of the community.

What the county is calling Hero Pay will include a $200 bonus on each paycheck for front-facing employees and an additional $100 for rear-facing employees. These bonuses will be taxed, but commissioners are hoping it will help families pay for childcare and other necessities that are a result of the pandemic.

“It’s great news,” said Kyle Burtch with Sedgwick County EMS. “We obviously don’t do this job for the money. We do it because we’re driven to keep our community safe. To have that backing of our politicians and our county and employer is great to see.”

Commissioners said these workers are not only putting their lives on the line every day, but risking the wellness of their families, too.

“I think they really took a good, well-balanced view of who is at risk of this and it was a good decision,” said Burtch.

The hero pay will go to county deputies, EMS workers, 911 dispatchers and those who are vital to protecting the community at this time.

“They are truly our heroes,” said David Dennis, county commissioner. “I think hero pay is appropriate. Each of these different folks have been fighting for their people each and every day. I think we need to publicly say thank you not only to the folks that are going and working each and every day protecting our community, but their leadership came up with an idea like this.”

The workers said while it has been tough the last few weeks, they are thinking of everyone being affected by COVID-19.

“This is a scary and risky time,” said Burtch. “It’s nice that people are acknowledging tat and it’s just nice to feel valued.”

The hero pay will continue for two pay periods and officials said there is a possibility that it will be renewed when that deadline is up.

Financial officials said these numbers are rough estimates, and it is possible that minor changes could be added.

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