Zionsville Town Council considers stipend for essential workers

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In a preliminary discussion of disbursement of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, the Zionsville Town Council agreed on a $129,000 stipend request to benefit essential workers at its July 6 meeting.

A formal vote did not take place, but council members expressed interest in saving the remaining ARPA funds in case they are needed for administrative purposes in the future.

The town council plans to introduce the resolution for a public hearing during its Aug. 1 town meeting.

“This money we have is a pretty big safety net in a pretty turbulent environment,” council member Josh Garrett said. “I just don’t want to give away too much money, even though it’s deserved, not knowing that we may need that for core operating duties.”

Council Vice President Brad Burk said he wondered about raising the stipend for workers. President Jason Plunkett said he agreed but, because of economic uncertainty, recommended revisiting ARPA funds in the future.

“I, too, would like to see it bump up a little bit, but I’m also sensitive to the fact that we can always come back and do this again,” Plunkett said. “If we come back and find that revenue is different, and we find out we’re in a different spot, we have until 2024 (to use the funds).”

The premium pay funded by ARPA is intended for essential workers who supported critical infrastructure during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the sectors of public health and safety, social and human services and state/local government, according to the National League of Cities.

Employees cannot have worked remotely and must have risked COVID-19 exposure on a regular basis.

“This is not something the town council essentially cherry picks,” Plunkett said. “These are folks that were deemed essential personnel early on by the administration.”

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