By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – Though village hall will remain closed through the end of May because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all employees have been asked to return to work.
When the state’s Safer at Home order was in effect through April 24, before Gov. Tony Evers extended it through Memorial Day weekend, the Ashwaubenon village board decided at a special meeting April 2, regardless of whether village employees were considered essential or non-essential and able to still work, they would be paid through the end of April.
Upon the order being extended, Village Manager Allison Swanson said she asked all staff to return to work Monday, April 27.
Swanson said the village’s operational demand requires about 90 percent of staffing to return.
“Public works, park maintenance and inspection have been very busy, and increased staffing is required to keep up with the essential operations,” she said. “The clerk’s office must complete election work within the next few weeks.
The assessor’s office must complete assessment work to maintain timeliness for the Board of Review.”
Finance Director Greg Wenholz – who appeared at the Tuesday, April 28, village board meeting remotely with all the board members physically present and spread out 6 feet apart for social distancing in the board room – presented the following three-part recommendation the board approved for staff returning:
1. Village hall will remain closed to the public through the end of May. The closing will be reevaluated at the May board meeting. The closing does not appear to be limiting people’s ability to obtain permits, make payments or conduct any other required business. The public can continue to use email, mail and phone to conduct business.
2. All employees return to work, except that those that are able to telecommute should continue to telecommute. For employees who are uncomfortable returning to work and unable to telecommute, they would be able to use vacation time or go unpaid.
3. If there is insufficient workload within a department or lack of ability to shift workload from any other department to an employee lacking in work, that employee would be sent home. An employee could offset this time with vacation time or go unpaid. Every effort will be made to shift work to these employees.
Village President Mary Kardoskee said the village operations and staffing during the pandemic give employees the option to not have to be physically present if they are not comfortable returning.
“It works quite well,” she said. “Everyone is respectful of everybody as far as staying away from each other and wiping down doors and everything.”