Officials in Michigan county will return virus bonuses
CORUNNA, Mich., July 25, 2021 (AP): Elected officials in a
conservative Michigan county who gave themselves bonuses of
$65,000 with federal COVID-19 relief aid said they will return
the money following days of criticism.
Shiawassee County commissioners acted after the prosecutor said
the payments were illegal, The Argus-Press reported.
The Michigan Constitution bars additional compensation for
elected officials "after services had already been rendered,''
prosecutor Scott Koerner said Friday.
The commissioners, all Republicans, voted on July 15 to award
themselves $65,000 as part of a plan to give $557,000 to 250
county employees as ``hazard pay'' for dealing with the
The smallest amounts for recipients were $1,000 to $2,000. But
County Board Chairman Jeremy Root got $25,000. Two more
commissioners received $10,000 each, while four others received
The vote was 6-0 with one commissioner absent.
The commissioners awarded money to other elected officials,
including the prosecutor, the sheriff and the county clerk, all
Republicans. They, too, said they would give it back.
"Since these payments were made, confusion about the nature of
these funds has run rampant,'' a statement from commissioners
said. "(We) deeply regret that this gesture has been
misinterpreted, and have unanimously decided to voluntarily
return the funds to the county, pending additional guidance from
the state of Michigan.''
Commissioner Marlene Webster insisted she had no idea that she
had voted to pay herself and returned the money last week, even
posting a copy of the check on Facebook. She criticized the
latest statement, saying there was no misinterpretation of the
"That's an insult to the citizens of Shiawassee County,''
Two Michigan congressmen, a Democrat and a Republican, said
federal virus aid wasn't intended to reward elected officials.
Separately, a judge set a hearing for Monday in a lawsuit aimed
at rescinding bonuses for the officials. It was filed before the