Photo courtesy Unsplash
Photo courtesy Unsplash

At its Aug. 11 meeting, the Pierce County Council unanimously passed a COVID-19-related emergency jobs ordinance aimed at youth and young adults between the ages of 16 and 25.

Hugh Taylor, senior legislative analyst for the council, explained prior to the vote that, if adopted, the ordinance would modify the Emergency Small Business Relief Program.

Under the initiative, participants between 16 and 17 will be paid a minimum wage of $13.50 an hour, while those 18 to 25 will receive a wage of $15 an hour.

The program is funded by $500,000 from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The council previously authorized allocating these funds to support economic stabilization and recovery programs as part of the overall pandemic response effort.

The council also dedicated another $250,000 in CARES Act funding to support local school districts with existing career and technical education programs. The money is available to eligible districts to assist with students learning about available career options in Pierce County.

Councilmember Derek Young previously indicated he proposed the jobs initiative based on President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal program during the Great Depression providing manual labor jobs related to conservation and development of natural resources.

The next step is for the county’s Economic Development Department to execute contracts with WorkForce Central and local school districts.

In other business, the council discussed an ordinance – Proposal No. 2020-74s – authorizing the use of body cameras by Pierce County Sheriff’s Department deputies, but a final decision was put off for at least three weeks owing to an amendment passed by the council adding the use of in-vehicle dash cameras to the ordinance.

“Basically, what this does is authorize the sheriff to deploy body cameras to department deputies in accordance with state and federal law,” said Jeff Cox, senior legal analyst for the council.

The council voted to continue consideration of the ordinance with the amendment at its Sept. 8 meeting.