WILTON — The Wilton Select Board approved a motion to distribute part of the town’s American Rescue Plan Act funding toward hazard pay for municipal employees.

The board allocated $54,750 of the $418,000 to give as bonuses to town employees who worked on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The recipients are from the town office, highway, transfer station, recreation, police, water/wastewater, Wilton Fire and East Dixfield Fire departments.

The funding is as follows:

• Town office — $4,250

• Highway — $8,000


• Transfer station — $1,750

• Parks and Recreation — $1,250

• Police — $7,750

• Water/wastewater — $5,000

• Wilton Fire Department — $20,250

• East Dixfield Fire Department — $6,500


Wilton is not the first town in Maine to consider or approve ARPA spending for hazard pay: among other towns, Pittsfield approved hazard pay and Auburn is considering it.

During discussion, the board decided to allocate the funds in a way that prioritizes specific departments that were especially exposed to the public, at risk of COVID-19 exposure and putting in a large amount of work — even if it’s not on the books. These departments include the police and fire departments, who had to interact with the public whether or not those individuals were masked.

Additionally, Town Manager Rhonda Irish pointed out that the time logs don’t “cover all of everything [firefighters and police officers] put their time in for.”

Initially, they reviewed a proposal, based on a previous suggestion from the board, that allocated funding based on an average amount of hours each person put in. The draft proposed $1,000 for full-time employees who work 40 hours a week, $750 for 30 hours a week, $500 for 20 hours and $250 for less than 20 hours.

But the board felt that the level of hazard in each position should come into play.

“There are other things that do come into play that we need to think about,” Selectperson Keith Swett said. “Hazard pay means you’re in a hazardous situation and a firefighter going out to someone’s house or to an accident or something is much more likely to run into a problem [regarding COVID-19 exposure] than the person in a office with a mask on, behind a shield.”


There is “higher risk” for them,” Select Board Chair David Leavitt added.

“[There is] a higher level of hazard with those that have direct contact with potential COVID related people,” Leavitt said. “That’s what this hazard pay is about. Not just about keeping the town going but the potential risk of the contamination of somebody.”

“If you see them in an accident you don’t have time to decide whether they’re COVID positive,” Selectperson Tom Saviello agreed.

However, Saviello wondered how the board could “differentiate” an employee at higher risk who’s worked 20 hours from an employee with lower risk who worked 40 hours.

Irish agreed with the board’s suggestion, however noted that giving certain departments more hazard pay than others “tends to cause issues among employees” in other towns making similar decisions.

“You’re right, it is hazard pay. But the other employees too were keeping the town going, all aspects of the town going, whether public safety [or not],” Irish said.


Selectperson Tiffany Mauiri agreed with Irish that “everyone did have a hazard,” but highlighted the various levels of hazard.

“[Police officers, firefighters] have direct contact, face contact and hands on contact. If you’re responding to an accident, you can’t put up some sort of barrier, you are right there in front of them,” she said. “There needs to be some sort of recognitions as well as that there is a difference in the type of hazard.”

She suggested that all town employees receive hazard pay but with varying amounts.

In the end, the board deviated from the specific formula in regard to the police and fire departments.

The board allocated the most funds to the police and fire departments: the police chief, sergeant and two officers received the highest bonuses among town employees at $1,500 a person; the fire chief and two firefighters received $1,250 (while the 16 others who put in less hours than the aforementioned officers received the $1,000).

The East Dixfield Fire Department also received bonuses for the time they spent with emergencies in Wilton.

The board unanimously voted to approve the hazard pay bonuses. They had previously wondered whether they needed approval from a town meeting to allocate and spend ARPA funding. Irish pointed out that there has been “total discrepancy,” confusion over whether or not legislative approval is needed.

However, the board referred to Wilton’s 65th article, which “authorize[s] the Selectboard to apply for State, federal … and other grants on the Town’s behalf for purposes deemed by the Selectboard to be in the best interests of the Town; to accept such grants … and to appropriate such grant funds for any purpose for which the Town has appropriated funds in FY 2021-2022.”

In other business, the board also voted to increase wages for all full-and-part-time municipal employees in Wilton by $1.00 an hour. The money for the wage increase will not come from the ARPA funding.

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