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Disaster pay to end for city employees

By Dawn Burleigh

City of Orange employees who have been receiving disaster pay since March 26, 2020 due to COVID-19, will see an end to the higher pay rate at 6 a.m. April 20, 2020.

With this disaster being different from ones in the past, such as Hurricane Harvey or Tropical Storm Imelda, when this will end is not known.

“We don’t know how long this will last,” City manager Mike Kunst said. “We know we are all getting frustrated.”

Kunst added that his goal is for everyone who had a job with the city when all this began, to still have a job with the city when it is over.

“We are here to serve,” Kunst said. “We have to be mindful of what we are doing.”

“We, as a city, are not allowed to do less than what the governor says,” Orange Mayor Larry Spears Jr added. “It is in our best interest that we to still hold back and to keep doing what we have been doing because we do not want to have a relapse.”

Spears added that rushing back out was not the responsible thing to do.

“We need to have a slow gradual increase,” Spears said.

“It is not over and then back to normal,” Kunst added.

Spears also added there were many conversations concerning the disaster pay.

“We want to do what is right for the staff and the community while being financially responsible,” Spears said. “No one is losing a paycheck and we are doing everything we can to make it right.”

Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19, City EDC Director Jay Trahan announced the DSRA Boat Races scheduled for May 16-17 would be postponed until June 27 and June 28, 2020.

“Bassmaster tournament is on hold right now too,” Trahan said. “They are working with the Chamber.”