Mayor Joe Jerkins said 99 employees will get a 67 percent increase in the perk.
“We’ve been giving them $150 for the last several years,” he said. “This year we gave them $250.”
Of the 99 employees, 97 will get $250, while two workers with less than six months’ tenure will receive their first bonuses of $125 each.
“All full-time employees will receive a Christmas bonus,” Fire Chief Tim Williams, the city coordinator of the holiday bonus and lunch, said in a statement. “The bonus amount will be calculated based on the length of service with the city.”
Employees with less than 180 days of employment receive 50 percent bonuses, while employees with more than 180 days of employment receive 100 percent.
The city’s 28 part-time employees do not receive bonuses.
Jerkins said a decrease in expenditures funded by about $50,000 in annual interest on the $5 million Norfolk Southern Railroad settlement of 1998 led to the decision.
“We had some extra money in the railroad fund, and the board mentioned giving more to employees,” Jerkins said about the Austell Area Community Improvement Fund board, which also allocates funds to nonprofits and schools.
City funds also contribute to the bonuses, which will be $100 for each of the 97 employees and $75 for the remaining two.
The railroad fund pays for $100 per long-term employee and $50 for the remaining two.
The checks will be handed out Dec. 7.
Jerkins, who has donated his $12,000 annual salary for Christmas bonuses for 14 years, said the practice is a long-standing tradition with him.
“When I was in business, I always gave my employees something for Christmas,” said Jerkins, the former proprietor of Joe’s Bottle Shop in Austell. “It meant a lot to them,” Jerkins said, “so it’s important to me, too.”
Also important is the annual Christmas lunch, which will take place Dec. 21 at noon at the city-owned Collar Community Center.
“We give them a lunch and then we give out a couple thousand dollars’ worth of gifts,” Jerkins said about a raffle for city-funded items like a television, electronics, tools and kitchenware.
Austell business Superior Catering will provide the main meal, winning the bidding process with a $1,434 bid, and Gretchen’s Amazing Cakes will provide dessert at $150.