WARSAW — At the Kosciusko County Commissioners meeting held Tuesday, March 31, County Attorney Chad Miner presented a prepared resolution amending the county’s closure policy that was recently proposed.
Miner said the resolution would supersede any prior policy structure addressing the closing of county offices that could extend beyond April 6.
“This resolution would kind of cover the issue of pay from April 7 and going on for the next 10 weeks, from April 7 through June 15,” Miner said. “If things went beyond June 15, then at that point it would be something that would have to be looked at to make a determination as to how you want to go from there.”
The amendment states that beginning April 7, all employees who are considered essential and are required to come to work will receive full pay. Non-essential county employees who are at home and not working because of the pandemic will receive two-thirds pay for a duration of 10 weeks.
Miner explained that full-time employees would get two thirds of their salary if they’re not working. Part-time employees would receive two thirds of their salary for the hours they typically would have been scheduled for. Anyone considered essential who is able to continue working would receive full pay for the hours they actually work. Miner said if a situation occurred where a full-time employee worked 10 hours, they would get full pay for the 10 hours they worked and two thirds pay for the other 30 hours of that week.
Commissioner Vice-President Bob Conley said he has received several calls from people who are concerned that county employees who are not working will be getting paid two-thirds of their salary.
Conley said the callers stated that they are not getting paid for not working.
“I had to explain that we have quality employees and if we’re not cautious, you could lose those employees because of this whole thing,” Conley said. “They’re not beating down the door to come and work for the county so you have to be cautious.”
“We’ve got to be good stewards of the funds we have,” Commissioner Cary Groninger said. “I think there are a lot of unknowns out there. We need to be as frugal as we can, but at the same token be fair with our employees.”
Commissioners unanimously approved the amended Kosciusko County closure policy.
Next, commissioners discussed keeping the courthouse closed to the public for one additional week after the county is allowed to reopen offices.
A motion was approved to extend the stay-at-home order for two weeks, provided that it is not greater than the governor’s extension, and to keep county offices closed to the public for one additional week following the reopening of county offices.
If the governor does not extend the order, county employees will return on April 7, but the offices will remain closed to the public for one additional week.
Kosciusko County Health Department Administrator Bob Weaver supported the decision by commissioners.
Kosciusko County Surveyor Mike Kissinger then asked about the consensus regarding public meetings.
Discussion followed regarding the use of Zoom and Google Hangouts.
Groninger encouraged making plans for this.
“I think even if we’re open for business, I think we’re going to want to try to minimize our gatherings of people,” Groninger said. “That’s probably going to go on for some time here even after we reopen.”
Miner said information has come from the Indiana Public Access Counselor’s office on how to conduct meetings.
“There have been changes in what we’re allowed to do,” Miner said. He encouraged anyone with questions regarding what needs to be done to remain compliant with the various new rules to contact him.
Kosciusko County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Hampton said the courts, jail and prosecutor’s office have been using Google Hangouts and Google Suite and stated they have found this very helpful.
This will be looked into further.
Hampton questioned whether essential employees receiving time and a half, with the half being comp time, can use the comp time if the county office closure is extended past April 7.
“As soon as it is earned, it is sitting in that bucket and you’re able to use it,” said County Auditor Michelle Puckett.
In other news:
- Puckett said the current 2020 calendar shows May 5 as the primary election day. Since that has now been changed to June 2, Puckett requested permission to make an adjustment to the 2020 county holiday calendar. This was approved.
- County Administrator Marsha McSherry told commissioners that Kosciusko County soil and water employees need to be designated as essential employees so that they may continue performing duties. This was approved.
- The next regular meeting will be held at 9 a.m. April 14.