Kennesaw approves use of COVID relief funds for staff and facility improvements

Brick Kennesaw government building with four tall wooden columns

By Rebecca Gaunt

City of Kennesaw staff members deemed essential will receive a one-time extra payment for their service during the COVID-19 health emergency.

The American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package signed by President Joe Biden in March, authorizes premium pay for eligible workers who provide essential government services.

To be eligible, employees must be actively working for the city as of Dec. 10 and their annual salary cannot exceed $105,846. Depending on full-time or part-time status and hiring date, employees will receive a payment ranging from $500–$3000.

Kennesaw has also been approved for approximately $13 million from the coronavirus state and local fiscal recovery fund established by the ARPA, according to city manager Jeff Drobney. The city has already received a first round of $6 million.

One of Drobney’s top priorities is to finish the second floor of the public works building. The estimated cost is $2 million.

“We have got to spread people out…we have people jammed in multiple areas right now. It’s not a good situation,” he told the Council at last week’s work session.

About $200,000 is needed to finish the second floor of the Southern Museum to enclose the space and replace the HVAC unit.

Both expenditures qualify for funds as measures to improve social distancing and ventilation.

Other projects approved:

-Touchless water fountains for $45,000

-IT capital expenses for $478,000

-Expanded signage at Smith-Gilbert Gardens for $38,000

-A topographical survey that will be used to plan ADA compliant pathways at Smith-Gilbert Gardens for $10,000

-Upgrading of restroom facilities at Smith-Gilbert Gardens for $260,000.

“Under the guidelines, they want us to use those dollars to expand our parks, to get people out, to not be in a confined space,” Drobney said.

City Council approved the expenditures 4-0 Monday with Councilman Chris Henderson absent.

Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University. After teaching elementary school for several years, she returned to writing. She lives in Marietta with her husband, son, two cats, and a dog. In her spare time, she loves to read, binge Netflix and travel.