(Posted April 23, 2020)
By Andrew Garrett, Staff Writer
Even during times of crisis, municipal government must perform essential functions. London city council recognized this fact when it elected to adopt the Public Health Emergency Leave Policy at its regular meeting on April 16.
The policy is part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) recently enacted by the federal government and amends the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guidelines in a number of ways.
Eligible employees affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) must have been hired on for at least 30 days prior to taking a leave. For the first 10 days of that leave, employees must use their employer provided benefits, such as personal time, before any federal benefits kick in. Once this criterion has been met, employees may use up to 12 weeks of family leave time and 80 hours of sick time.
Employee compensation will be two-thirds of their regular pay, according to the act.
Council member Andrew Hitt noted that certain categories of employees are exempt from this policy, basically those deemed essential to the functioning of the city. These include, but are not limited to, healthcare providers and first responders. Certain utilities operators are expected to show up under this policy as well.
Other legislation passed included:
- a request by the fire department to increase appropriations in the amount of $192,000 to pay for a cardiac monitor, a transport vehicle payment, and HVAC payment;
- two appropriation requests for the police department–a transfer of $22,297 from the Law Enforcement Trust Fund to the miscellaneous police line and a transfer of $4,000 from Fund 224 (collected from court fines from OMVI prosecutions) to the police education line; and
- a resolution authorizing payment in excess of $46,000 to Clemans Nelson, a company specializing in human resources management that has been providing the city with payroll services.
As of April 21, there were 24 lab-confirmed cases and five probable cases of COVID-19 in Madison County, according to Madison County Public Health. As of April 21, Madison County has had a total of eight hospitalizations and three deaths due to COVID-19.
Because of the virus outbreak and the resultant shutdown of non-essential businesses and mass layoffs, Mayor Patrick Closser said it can be expected that the city’s tax revenues will be down by as much as 30 percent. In a city that takes in $6 million in tax revenue a year, even a 10 percent decrease would be a substantial blow to the budget. Closser said he has been in contact with Congressman Steve Stivers and Senator Bob Hackett for leads on grants or other programs that could assist with financial relief for the city.
Council member Richard Hays recognized Sgt. Keith Akers, who will be retiring from the police department on May 2 after 30 years of service. His last day to report for duty will be May 1.
The next regular meeting of London city council is set for 6:30 p.m. May 7.