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COVID-19 emergency sick leave policy approved
laf county board 2020
Members of the Lafayette County Board were sworn in on Tuesday, April 21 by Lafayette County Judge Duane Jorgenson. - photo by Kayla Barnes

DARLINGTON – After members of the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department temped everyone at the door, handed out masks and gloves, the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors met at the Multi-Purpose Building and had their first meeting with their new members on April 21.

The meeting began with a moment of silence for the passing of former board supervisor Larry Cherrey who passed away on April 12.

The meeting continued with election of county board officers. Robert Laeser nominated Bob Boyle for the position as chairman and Rita Buchholz seconded. Andy Schilling nominated Jack Sauer with Larry Ludlum seconding. The motion was cast and Sauer defeated Boyle 8-7.

Scott Pedley nominated Larry Ludlum for second vice-chair with Lee Gill seconding. Robert Laeser nominated Kriss Marion with Nancy Fisker seconding. The motion was cast and Marion defeated Ludlum 8-7.

Scott Pedley was unanimously nominated as first vice-chair.

Lee Gill, Bob Boyle, Andy Schilling and Carmen McDonald were elected to the Highway Committee. Marion, Pedley, Ludlum, Schilling and Carol Korn are on the Executive, Rules & Legislative Committee.

The board then took action on the resolution for COVID-19 emergency sick leave specific to Lafayette County employees.

A committee consisting of Hospital Administrator Kathy Kuepers, interim Manor Administrator Heather Spinhirne, Emergency Management Director Theresa Burgess, Human Resource Director Samantha Morrissey and County Chairman Jack Sauer, created the resolution.

On March 18, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), modified from the Family and Medical Leave Act, was created for certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The committee modified the policy to fit the needs of those employees in Lafayette County.

Because Lafayette County is the only county in Wisconsin that has a county run hospital and manor, the committee wanted all of the county employees to be able to take the paid time off as the FFCRA left out healthcare workers. All employees actively employed by Lafayette County as eligible Lafayette County employees considered full-time, will be eligible for 80 hours; regular part time employees will be eligible for a pro-rated amount based on their regular hours of work of COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave if one of the following criteria are met:

1.     employee is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; or

2.     employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19; or

3.     employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis

The policy remains in effect until December 31. Pedley made the motion to accept the resolution with Donna Flannery seconding the motion. It passed unanimously.

The board then discussed Resolution 2-20: Defining “Emergency Responder” and “Health Care Provider” as it Relates to Exemption From Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Corporation Council Nathan Russell stated this resolution was created just to define emergency responder and health care provider.

Marion asked if Sauer had heard any feedback from the employees on the previous resolution.

Sauer stated that he knows there is concern at the hospital and everyone is dealing with an abundance of stress but had heard no specific feedback from employees.

“The moral is good. I feel they are going to trust the county. We will try and do the best we can. The board will try to do what we can for the employees,” Sauer said.

“Everyone is experiencing things in different ways. I’m glad we are making an effort to equalize things,” Marion stated.

Highway Commissioner Tom Jean stated that he met with his employees recently and he wants them all to stay safe. Many are using their own paid time off. He wants to make sure his workers are getting a paycheck so they are still able to retain insurance.

“These are troubling times. My guys are more than willing to come in if needed. We need to do what we can to get that time back to them. I am keeping everyone as far away from each other as they can and still getting work done. The moral is good for what we are going through,” Jean said.

The motion passed unanimously.

Other business

It was also approved to increase the compensation for the Lafayette County IT Director by $6,000 to $9,000, making the range up to $72,000.

Marion stated since the county lost their IT Director Adam Brandt shortly before the COVID-19 Safe-at-Home orders were put in place, it has been hard for the county.

“We need an IT infrastructure under us. A lot of business needs to get done and they need IT to get it done,” Marion said.

“It is a critical situation. I don’t know an area that doesn’t rely on IT to function. I fully support this,” Pedley commented.

Marion added that IT Technician Daric Heim is doing an amazing job learning to scramble and is very patient even with all the stress from the job.

It passed unanimously.

It was also approved to increase the pay for the Director of Nursing Heather Spinhirne as she takes over the role as Interim Administrator to an additional $4.50 and increase MDS Coordinator Michelle Pedley $3.00 as she takes on the position as Interim Director of Nursing, after the retirement of Peggy Rolli on April 6. The motion passed unanimously.