June 16 – A special session of the Hagerstown Mayor and City Council resulted in a vote that would provide an additional $5,000 for city employees from the American Rescue Plan.
That’s on top of what has already been given by the federal government.
For workers who never lost a day of work during the pandemic.
For workers who maintained all their benefits.
For workers who did not lose a single dime during the COVID 19 health crisis.
Wes Decker, Communications Officer with the City of Hagerstown, joined Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen this morning on First News to discuss yesterday’s meeting.
The motion in the meeting was for $3,000, but Council Member Kristin Aleshire didn’t think that was enough, so the council raised it to $5,000.
It passed unanimously.
Ryan said, “I’ve got to get my jaw off the ground here. You are an employee of Hagerstown, right? And you were employed through the entire pandemic, correct? And now they’re going to give you a $5,000 stipend?”
Decker joked, “I feel like I’m on the witness stand here. Yes, that is correct.”
Ryan replied, “Listen, you didn’t make the decision. The council and mayor came up with this one.”
Jansen said, “That’s outrageous. I’m sorry. Most of the people in government got to keep their jobs, their benefits, their salaries through all of this while many people lost their businesses. I, myself, was not able to make as much money during this time because of the shut down of everything. I’m sorry, Wes, this is not aimed at you.”
Ryan added, “Of course not.”
Jansen continued, “That’s outrageous. The last people that are financially suffering through this are government workers. Except for maybe people on the very, very front lines who’s lives may have been at risk. That seems really tone deaf to the suffering that many, many people had to go through that government employees did not have to go through. I think that was a huge mistake.”
When asked if the public would be able to comment on the decision, it was discovered that the vote during the special session was the vote.
It’s a done deal.
Ryan asked, “Why are we hiding behind a work session and not having some public comment on that one. Was there any chance for the public to comment on that?”
Decker explained, “Because this money is coming from the federal government there are so many restrictions and limitations on that money that essentially…a lot of these municipalities and counties who are receiving this funding basically the federal government is saying here’s a bunch of money for you but we’re putting so many restrictions on it, you figure out what to do with it within those guidelines. And one of the things that can be done is these stipends. I’m not trying to come up with a reason why this was done it’s just that there’s a 70-page document that says what can and cannot be done with this funding and the what can’t be done, that list is so much longer than what can be done. What can be done is like three different things versus hundreds of things that you can’t do with that money.”
Jansen wondered, “Why don’t we just say no, we’re not using it? If you have to invent ways to spend this money, money that we’re printing. It doesn’t really exist. We’re just hurting our future. This is why inflation partially is heading the way it’s heading. Why can’t responsible people in government say this is nonsense? If you would let us use it for things that would really help the taxpayers we’d be so happy. Because this money’s coming from them anyway and if you’re just forcing us to invent ways to throw this money around like drunken sailors because we have nothing else to spend it on but women and booze.”
Ryan added, “I don’t think I’ve heard anything more outrageous out of that mayor. And where’s the council on this? Where are the responsible people to say no? I believe the Mayor of Hagerstown is a small business owner. What are we buying votes for the next time around? Honestly, I think of some of those suffering small businesses…”
There are a little more than 400 employees in the City of Hagerstown that will get $5,000 each.
That’s over $2 million.
“Wow,” Ryan said.
Jansen asked, “How many businesses are going under right now in Hagerstown that could use that $2 million? I understand if there’s restrictions, but then just say no.”
Ryan added, “The FCC has gotten in the way of many of my remarks right now. God bless them. This is exactly why school boards and mayors and council members, you’ve got to know who these people are. Have some stones to push away from stuff like this. Cut the check back to the federal government. I heard Allen Coffman years ago say there’s money on the table and we better get our fair share for Chambersburg. It got it, but holy macaroni.”
Jansen said, “To hand money to the portion of our population that never lost income.”
Ryan pointed out, “I don’t fault you (Wes). I fault mayor and council. And don’t give me this line of crapola that we better do something with this money. It’s your money.”
Jansen said, “That’s what the Biden administration is doing. They’re dangling all this printed money out in front of all these different groups. Including us, here’s $3,600 for your kids under six. Here’s $3,000 for your kids under 12 for people who are making six figure salaries. This is insane. And we’re all taking it. All to our detriment. And the Biden administration is just buying votes and buying good will in the short term that’s going to really damage us in the long term.”
Ryan said, “Disgraceful. Shame on you. And what the hell? $3,000? We should make it $5,000. Why didn’t you make it $10,000?”
Jansen sighed, “It is that ridiculous of a mindset.”