Tarrant County commissioners will use about $26.5 million in federal funds on a retention program aimed at rewarding current employees and attracting future ones.

The funds will be split into three separate payments, one in early August, one in late September and one in early December, according to a vote at the July 5 commissioners meeting.

Full-time employees will receive a total of $4,900, and nonproject, temporary employees will receive $1,000, according to documents.

Tarrant County’s employee turnover has increased across all departments since the start of the pandemic.

“The retention aspects of the county are reaching a critical point,” County Administrator G.K. Maenius told commissioners. “We are down significantly in a lot of areas.”

He said the retention payment program for full-time employees will be funded through the county’s American Rescue Plan Act Fiscal Recovery Fund. About $500,000 from the county general fund will be used to pay temporary employees, according to documents.

Commissioner Roy Charles Brooks said he believed the retention program will not only show prospective employees that the county is a caring organization, but it will also help existing employees.

“Our employees have been beat up by COVID,” he said. “They’ve been beat up by inflation, particularly the price of gasoline.”

Maenius said elected officials are not included in the retention program and will not receive any payments.