Two weeks after a police chief was denied a performance bonus, Eyewitness News has discovered nearly a dozen other city officials have received similar merit bonuses totaling thousands of dollars.
Channel 9 requested the information from Monroe's city manager after he recommended denying the $3,000 performance bonus to Chief Debra Duncan, and the city council followed suit; many officials citing concerns about "fairness," since other lower-level employees were not awarded bonuses as well.
Monroe has not given its 450 or so employees any merit-based raises since 2008 due to concerns about the slowing economy.
But the list provided to Eyewitness News shows that several top level city officials have been awarded one-time performance bonuses in that time span.
According to records, just five days before the city manager recommended rejecting a performance bonus to Chief Duncan, the city attorney, Terry Sholar, was sent a bonus check for $4,375.
Since 2008, the city's Director of Energy Services Don Mitchell has been awarded more than $12,000 in bonus checks -- two of the bonuses were in 2010, just four months apart.
Two employees in the city manager's office also received bonus checks in 2009 and 2010, worth more than $6,500.
Monroe's Mayor Bobby Kilgore had no idea about most of the names on the bonus list until Eyewitness News contacted him.
"I was surprised, very surprised," Mayor Kilgore said.
Kilgore said the city manager has the authority to award bonuses without the city council's knowledge or approval.
"I'm always concerned about city business, but some of this stuff, it goes back to personnel issues, and that doesn't come to the mayor's office," Kilgore said.
But city officials contend those who have received bonuses went above and beyond the call of duty to make major accomplishments, including the Director of Energy Services, who worked tirelessly to bring the city a natural gas pipeline.
Some council members remained concerned about the information Channel 9 uncovered.
Councilwoman Dottie Nash, who sponsored the motion to give the raise to Chief Duncan, told Eyewitness News, "I am surprised there were that many… I didn't expect that. I think the Chief still deserves a bonus. She has improved that department 100 percent."
City Manager Wayne Herron did not respond to requests for comment, or specific questions about why the bonuses were awarded.