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Omaha city employees to earn premium pay for work during pandemic

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Omaha city employees will get up to $3,000 in premium pay for working during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Omaha City Council approved the premium pay plan during its Tuesday meeting.

Funding for the premium pay comes from more than $112 million the city received through the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA.

Full-time employees — police, fire and civilian — are eligible for up to $3,000, payable over several pay periods starting July 24, 2022, and ending Nov. 12, 2022. Part-time and seasonal workers are eligible for up to $1,500 maximum.

City officials estimate spending no more than $9.5 million for full-time employees and a max of $1.5 million for part-time and seasonal workers.

City officials intend to pay each employee up to $10 per hour premium pay for work done during regularly scheduled hours up to the max amount of $1,500 per part-time and seasonal employee and $3,000 per full-time employee.

Employees will not receive premium pay for any hours worked from home.

Elected officials, including the mayor and City Council members, are not eligible. The city has about 2,700 full-time employees.

Premium pay will not be pensionable.

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert first introduced the premium pay plan during a press conference detailing ARPA spending in late June.

At the time, she said the plan was brought forth by the Omaha Police Officers Association.

Officials felt strongly, she said at the time, that premium pay couldn’t be offered to one group of city employees and not all. Even though police, fire and civilian employees played different roles during the pandemic, they all came to work and were at risk of being exposed to the virus.

While the primary use of ARPA money is for local governments to replace lost revenue through 2023, it also can be used to support community programs, respond to pandemic impacts and promote economic recovery.

In a memo to council members, Stothert wrote: “These workers were essential to maintain continuity of operations of critical City functions and infrastructure.”

In other business, the City Council gave unanimous approval to the sale of about 7 acres of land between 17th and 19th Streets along Capitol Avenue for about $1.5 million. The property was once home to Omaha’s Civic Auditorium.

The development group purchasing the property intends to use it for a mix of housing options including 268 market-rate apartment units, about 120 affordable units, and about 25 town houses.


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