McCOOK, Nebraska -- Hillcrest trustees indicated they had no problem recognizing employee loyalty, they just want to do it legally.
Colinda Nappa, Hillcrest administrator, told the board Tuesday morning at the regular meeting that employees were customarily presented at the end of the year "length of service awards," that were given in cash and not taxed.
The awards are based on years of employment, with employees receiving $10 each year they are employed at the facility, beginning in the third year and continuing in five-year increments. According Nappa, $2,875 was given last year, in cash and not taxed, for length of service awards. Nappa said she questioned the legality of this and has been talking with Red Willow County attorney Paul Wood. As all bonuses must be board-approved, Nappa asked the board on how to proceed with this, with the Christmas party scheduled on Friday.
Nappa was hired as administrator for Hillcrest in August of this year.
In addition to these awards, employees also receive Christmas bonuses, which varied from $50 to $100 per employee and included money for taxes.
The board expressed surprise about the cash awards.
"I knew about the Christmas bonuses, but I have never heard of this," said trustee Jim Howard.
Nappa said it's important to recognize long-time employees that have been with Hillcrest for a long time, but wanted to make sure it was legal to use government funds, such as Medicare and Medicaid, as well as be responsible to taxpayers.
Trustee Randy Dean said, "If it wasn't legal, why weren't we told about it?"
Nappa said with most non--profit organizations, plaques, pins or certificates are given for employee awards. "We need to recognize employees, I just don't know if cash is the way to do it," she said.
Jim Howard said although he had no problem with the Christmas bonus, the legality of the cash awards concerned him. But he seemed reluctant to discontinue those awards and asked if there was some kind of financial vehicle to fund them, such as the Hillcrest Foundation. Employees are expecting and looking forward to that money, he said.
"I realize for single mothers ... they are using that money for Christmas shopping," he noted.
Gary Wiemers agreed and added, '"It is a morale builder, but we have to do it legally."
On a motion made by president Jim Hall, the board unanimously agreed for the length of service awards to be presented to employees at $10 per year, beginning with the third year of employment and continuing in five-year increments, to include taxes for that amount and for Christmas bonus to be $150 for full time employees and $50 for part time employees.
Employees must be employed for 90 days and not be in a resignation period.