City looking at possible staff impacts from COVID-19

Published 8:59 pm Monday, April 13, 2020

Manager: ‘I attribute furloughs as a loss of job for a lot of folks, and I take this very seriously’

 

The city of Albert Lea is considering the possibility of furloughs among other options in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city manager said Monday during the Albert Lea City Council meeting.

David Todd

David Todd said city staff are looking into all possibilities for future staffing and it was too early to provide information about how many employees might be affected.

“We are trying to mitigate the impact on our staff and at the same time be responsible to the taxpayers of the community,” Todd said in an email after the meeting.

He said he hopes to have a plan in place soon to come before the City Council for approval.

The discussion came as the council approved continuing the salaries through May 4 for exempt and non-exempt employees unable to work due to closures of city facilities because of the COVID-19 emergency.

Todd said the city has tried to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by requiring all city employees to work remotely except those deemed emergency workers, such as police, firefighters and public works employees. He said the city is obligated to protect the safety, welfare and public health of the community and that continued payment of salaries and wages served a public purpose by preventing the destabilization of the city workforce contributing to the state and local economy.

First Ward Councilor Rich Murray noted it was the second time for the order to be extended and asked what the city was doing to address this going forward.

“As a city, we can’t continue under this type of order very long without addressing the financial issues involved here,” Murray said.

Todd said he, the assistant city manager, human resources director and department heads are working to identify critical staff and staff that may have to enter a furlough period. He said city leadership are trying to pare that number down and come up with a strategy that mitigates the issue.

“I attribute furloughs as a loss of job for a lot of folks, and I take this very seriously,” he said. “At the same time, I understand the fiduciary responsibility that we have to the taxpayers.”

The council also approved extending the city’s emergency declaration and ordinance through the same date. The declaration first went into effect March 17.

In other action, the council:

• Approved the first reading of an ordinance that would rename Water Street as Marion Ross Street from Broadway to Washington Street near the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center.

Todd said the request followed community support and fundraising for a Marion Ross statue outside the theater.

• Accepted a bid for the 2020 neighborhood improvement and James Avenue reconstruction projects.

The only bid received for the project was from Ulland Bros. Inc. of Albert Lea for about $1.38 million.

The engineer’s estimate was $1.48 million.

• Approved the first reading of an amendment to the city’s dog and cat ordinance.

Background information provided by the city stated the ordinance requires licenses to ensure that owners of dogs and cats properly vaccinate their animals against rabies.

It also explains the proper care and treatment of dogs and cats, public nuisance issues and dangerous dog declarations.

• Accepted a $25 donation to the Albert Lea Police Department.