Council approves COVID-19 ordinance amendment, extension

By STEVEN MURREY

The Elwood City Council met Monday evening for a regular meeting; due to restrictions in place, the meeting was open to the public via a teleconference call.
Following roll call, the council approved compliance forms for the Red Gold tax abatement. Mayor Jones announced these compliance forms are for the existing abatement. Additionally, the council approved compliance forms for the Graham Packaging tax abatement.
The council was presented with an amendment and extension of the coronavirus emergency orders approved March 26.
Under current federal statutes, employees would be paid two-thirds of their salary for ten weeks if they are ill or in self-isolation. Jones asked the council to approve 100% pay for city employees over this ten-week period.
Jones said that several departments are working staggered schedules to reduce possible exposure, as he could not find employees with proper certification in the event that several within a department are out sick at once. This would also require those on rotating shifts to work if called in unless they are ill due to the virus. Jones said this request came after he found three employees who were taking advantage of the reduced schedules.
“This ordinance is about taking care of our employee’s health,” Jones said. “We were trying to be fair, and this is what has happened.”
Councilwoman Linda Moore expressed opposition to ending staggered schedules due to the actions of a few.
Jones said the employees were called Thursday to report to work Friday. The employees initially said no, but then all showed to work after being told they would have to use their own personal or sick days. Jones said he will determine which departments will continue to work on staggered schedules.
Moore said that the city is in unprecedented waters, and any employee caught taking advantage of the measures put in place should be disciplined. Jones said that once the workers were informed that they would have to use their own time, they reported to work. City Attorney Graham said the council is limited in how they can reprimand employees due to federal statutes.
The council unanimously approved the changes to Ordinance 2349 as presented.