BEDFORD COUNTY, Pa (WTAJ) — The Bedford County Salary Board approved new incentives Wednesday morning to help with staff retention.

In a special meeting, the board approved a one-time stipend for a majority of full and part-time employees to help with the financial concerns involved with the inflation and the staffing shortages.

The resolution proposed showed how county employees are making far less than the average county per capita. Eligible full-time employees will receive $1,500, and eligible part-time employees will receive $750.

Chair of Bedford County Commissioner Barry Dallara said that employees eligible for the stipend must be employed for at least a year. The intent is that this could provide a cushion for inflation prices through the end of the year.

“A one-time cost of living allocations to all county employees that have been with the county for more than a year, that meet the eligible criteria,” Dallara said. “It’ll be paid to union personnel as well as non-union personnel. It’ll be a one-time stipend that we hope will help people.”

Dallara said they calculated the stipend numbers based on documentation that shows the average of how much more employees are spending with the inflation.

“All the documentation has been made that everyone is spending at least $300 a month more for basic needs, fuel, food, etc. We hope this will help people have that until the end of the year.”

But this decision was not a unanimous vote. Vice-Chair Deb Baughman voted against the resolution because she doesn’t believe it’ll make the greatest financial relief by the end of the year. She said that the one-time stipend would not be a long-term benefit.

“Along with all residents of Bedford County, our employees are feeling the pinch of hyperinflation, which is projected to worsen,” Baughman said in a written statement. “However, I do not believe the action approved today solves the problem for employees or the employer and does not use precious taxpayer money effectively.”

She suggested adding the stipend to an employee’s base pay would be a permanent boost. The resolution said this would not negatively impact the 2022 budget because of the reduced salaries expended in the year’s budget.

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Dallara said they would continue to look into the effectiveness of the stipend throughout the year. From there, they’ll look at studies to see how to adjust to make competitive salaries for next year.

“We’ll have to make other adjustments and look at an internal compensation study to see what we can do to help people more and have competitive salaries next year.”

Dallara said that employees could expect a special pay period come July.