Mayor Danielle Moore says residents are embracing a philanthropic fund that she recently created to demonstrate appreciation for the town’s general employees.
The Mayor’s General Employee Appreciation Fund will rely on residents’ donations to fund $1,000 bonuses to all full-time general employees, Moore said Friday. The plan calls for annual bonuses to be given out each March, starting this year.
Moore sent a Feb. 9 email soliciting donations from about 700 people on her email list.
“To date, we’ve received a couple of significant pledges and expect to quickly reach the annual goal of $150,000,” she said.
Moore launched the fund in response to another philanthropic gesture of support for the town’s public safety employees.
The non-profit Palm Beach First Responder Foundation announced in January it would provide retirement benefits for employees of the police and fire departments.
Those benefits, which are in addition to the retirement benefits already provided by the town, are intended to help the town attract and retain the best police and firefighters, foundation leaders said.
There are 98 employees in the Police Department, including civilians and sworn officers, and 83 employees in the Fire-Rescue Department, including civilians and certified emergency responders, according to the town’s Human Resources Department.
Moore applauded the foundation’s support for the two public safety departments but said it’s also important to do something for the general employees. There are 135 general employees, according to the Human Resources Department.
“The purpose of this fund is to thank our general employees for their service,” Moore said. “I would love to see community support for this initiative. We live in an ultra-competitive environment to attract and retain employees.”
Moore said supporting the employees through bonuses gives them flexibility.
“They could select to direct it to a retirement account if they so choose, but the purpose is to show appreciation and as such, I believe employees should be able to use it for something they deem appropriate versus it to be designated to something specific,” she said.
The tax-deductible donations to the General Employee Appreciation Fund will be set aside in an account dedicated solely for that purpose, Moore said. Donations are made by sending a check to the Finance Department, Town of Palm Beach, P.O. Box 2029, Palm Beach, FL. 33480.
The town will continue to provide annual bonuses to all eligible employees through a separate, performance-based plan, Town Manager Kirk Blouin said.
Blouin said the Mayor’s General Employee Appreciation Fund sends a powerful message of support to the employees.
“What’s noteworthy is the speed in which the mayor and other generous citizens were able to assemble this fund, in response to the new benefit being provided to the members of the public safety departments,” Blouin said. “It shows they are a valued part of our town government.”
Former Mayor Gail Coniglio said it’s important that the Mayor’s General Employee Appreciation Fund be sustainable over the long term.
“I most certainly think it is time for the general employees to be seen and appreciated for the dedication and service they offer to the entire community,” Coniglio said. “They are the unsung heroes. I am excited about this program under the leadership of Mayor Moore and hope it will continue far into the future.”