ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Despite some veiled criticism, Albany's City Manager is not apologizing for 8,000 hours in overtime pay salaried employees received, including herself, during the disaster response efforts, following two destructive storms in January.
Salaried county employees received the same benefit, and it's a long-standing policy with both governments to pay for the extra time worked, when the Emergency Operation Center is open. And, it's compensation that FEMA can reimburse.
"In a state of emergency, we had people who slept here, you know?"
Albany's City Manager Sharon Subadan recounted the first days following the January 2 storm, and how city employees, some who were storm victims themselves, worked tirelessly to restore stability to the city.
And some of these salaried city employees, like the lineman, were given a straight hourly rate to compensate them for their time above 40 hours a week, in all totaling $270,000.
"These are the same people who are out there 16 hours a day, making sure the lights came back on," said Subadan.
The policy is the same in the county, although the County Administrator said salaried employees received time and a half pay.
"Approximately $47,000 was paid to 34 employees in six departments during the 32 days the EOC was activated," said County Mgr. Richard Crowdis.
Both Crowdis and Subadan agree the overtime pay policy during a state of emergency is common practice across the country, and a necessary one.
"That this is a way that you can legally provide more compensation to your key employees who are essential in a crisis," Crowdis said.
Crowdis did not receive any storm overtime pay, because he said the county emergency "team was in place," with leadership by Assistant Administrator Michael McCoy.
Subadan received 59 hours of storm pay for her efforts during the response over the course of 32 days.
And, while Subadan acknowledged that some might criticize her for being a relatively high salaried employee receiving overtime, or even question her role during the storm response, Subadan was quick to defend her employees.
"But, in terms of my staff, they earned that. I am never going to ask them, I am not going to make them feel guilty. And nobody in this community should," said Subadan.
Subadan plans to donate her overtime pay.
All of the state of emergency pay is fully reimbursable by FEMA, and both administrators said they are keeping careful records required to receive the federal compensation.