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Emporia City Councilman Woody Harris.

Janell Wilson, Clerk for the Greensville-Emporia Combined Court, sent a letter to Emporia City Manager William Johnson requesting a one-time bonus for her staff.

Wilson said the Greensville/Emporia Combined District Court has remained open and operational since the first COVID-19 Emergency Declaration in March of 2020. The request got tabled before the Emporia City Council rendered a vote.

“Our court has only stayed operational and available to the public only due to the extraordinary commitment and amazing dedication of our staff,” Wilson said in the the letter to Johnson. “We honor their commitment and willingness to come to work in person every day to respond to the public’s need for court services. The court was able to collect well over $100,000 for the city treasurer. Had the court been closed, we would not have been able to collect those fees.”

Johnson said Emporia has approximately $14,000 remaining in Cares Act funding. He reiterated that the funds are earmarked to cover any unforeseen expenses in completing and opening the vaccination building and resources needed for current vaccinations at the Golden Leaf Commons.

Though Johnson did not recommend for or against the bonuses, he said CARES Act funding had not been used previously for employee bonuses.

City Councilman Woody Harris recently voted against a step increase for city employees at this time, citing they had recently received bonuses. Those bonuses did not come out of the CARES Act revenue. He said he appreciates the work accomplished by the court employees but said he would vote against a bonus if brought to the floor.

“They’ve done a great job through a difficult situation as city employees have,” he said. “However, these are state employees, and the relationship of the courts as a quasi-state and local agency is such that if the state were to approved any such bonuses, they would be eligible.”

Harris said the Virginia General Assembly should be the body considering bonuses for the court employees.