CLINTON — Police, firefighters, solid waster operators and city bus drivers are essential and will continue working during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the City of Clinton Action Plan approved by the Clinton City Council on Tuesday.
Following a little technical difficulty (“It worked in rehearsal,” said City Administrator Matt Brooke), the Clinton City Council began Tuesday’s meeting late but in accordance with open meeting laws and coronavirus mandates.
The public was allowed to participate in the meeting via conference call, and fewer than 10 people sat at least 6 feet apart in the council chambers at City Hall.
City Attorney Patrick O’Connell said via phone that Iowa Code 21.4 “does permit electronic meetings.”
“Each meeting shall be held at a place reasonably accessible to the public, and at a time reasonably convenient to the public, unless for good cause such a place or time is impossible or impractical,” Iowa Code says.
“When it is necessary to hold a meeting ... at a place that is not reasonably accessible to the public, ... the nature of the good cause justifying that departure from the normal requirements shall be stated in the minutes.”
The council approved the city’s Infectious Disease Action Plan “to protect City employees and citizens. To establish a consistent approach to an infectious disease which is potentially impactful to the quality and timeliness of City services. To provide a way to disseminate information to City employees and answer questions or concerns.”
The Action Plan requires that department heads who can work from home do so or rotate home and facility time until at least Friday, April 17. The City will reevaluate the situation Monday, April 20, the plan says.
The city worked with O’Connell and Lynch Dallas law firm in Cedar Rapids to create the plan, said Brooke. “Plan for the worst. Hope for the best.”
“Everything’s moving at the speed of light right now,” said O’Connell. The City is attempting to adhere to federal recommendations. The plan was based on a model provided by another community and modified to meet the needs of the City of Clinton, he said.
“This is going to be a fluid situation,” O’Connell said.
While Brooke insisted that “all our employees are essential people,” the action plan makes a distinction between those who must work and those who can be spared.
Essential employees who are required to remain working full time on site include full-time police personnel assigned to a shift, full-time fire personnel assigned to a shift, full-time solid waste operators assigned to a route, full-time and part-time city bus drivers assigned to a route, and full-time hourly and salaried fleet maintenance personnel.
The plan defines flexible-essential employees as those whose workloads are not at least 50% dependent on serving customers who come into the employees’ workplaces. These employees will be asked to work a rotating schedule, working part time based on workload.
Flexible-essential employees include police department administrative personnel, nuisance officers, finance personnel, engineering personnel and library personnel.
“If an employee is put on a reduced schedule during this time, the employee will be paid two-thirds of their normal salary for all regularly scheduled shifts that they are not required to work,” the plan says.
The employees will be permitted to use paid leave to compensate for the lost 1/3 pay, and they may file for unemployment with Iowa Workforce Development.
Non-essential employees who are not required to report to work or work from home are those whose positions are customer service in nature and whose workloads consist of at least 50% service to the public who would normally enter the facility for business.
These employees will also be paid 2/3 of their normal salary and will be allowed to use paid leave or to apply for unemployment benefits.
The city will provide paid time off for employees who are under a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; employees who have been advised by healthcare providers to self-quarantine; employees experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking medical diagnosis; employees caring for people who are in the above categories; and employees caring for children because of school or day-care closures.