Clallam County OKs certain employees working from home

Leave program enacted in light of virus outbreak

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County commissioners have created a COVID-19 leave program to allow certain employees to work from home.

The supplemental leave for the coronavirus outbreak, which is over and above the existing leave program, is retroactive to March 16 and runs through April 1.

It is meant to bridge a gap until a federal coronavirus leave program takes effect April 2, county officials said.

The authorization “ensures employees and their families are cared for and that critical knowledge and skills are retained for the benefit of the county and the public,” according to an executive summary.

“This is a rapidly evolving piece of work here,” Board Chairman Mark Ozias said before the Tuesday vote.

“The basic premise is that we want to facilitate county employees staying home if that’s the right thing to do to help us address the COVID epidemic.”

Commissioners Randy Johnson and Ozias voted Tuesday — with commissioner Bill Peach excused — to authorize the COVID-19 pandemic supplemental leave program.

Commissioners worked with other county officials to fine-tune the proposal in a Monday work session.

“We’re just entering a time when we’re going to have to have a real high level of flexibility in a number of different areas,” County Administrator Rich Sill said.

“We’re going to be making a lot of decisions, moving in a lot of directions, as a result of all the outside forces.”

Later in the meeting, County Auditor Shoona Riggs announced that her office would be closed to in-person services beginning today and that some employees would be sent home.

The Auditor’s Office provides vehicle licensing, elections and other services. The office will still provide services by mail, email, online or by phone. Click on www.clallam.net/auditor.

Gov. Jay Inslee issued Monday a “stay-at-home” order urging non-essential workers to stay home.

“We’re taking this seriously in our office,” Riggs said of the coronavirus outbreak.

Ozias said he, too, planned to work remotely for the remainder of the week.

“This has been an evolving situation for everybody, but I want to encourage all of us to take it as seriously as we can,” Ozias said.

In other COVID-19 news, commissioners approved Tuesday a request for proposals from tourism-based nonprofits seeking lodging tax funds to “keep the lights on” for four months during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Proposals are due April 6. The Lodging Tax Advisory Committee will make funding recommendations.

Grant are expected to be in the $5,000 to $25,000 range, according to the application form.

“This, again, is not for discretionary expenses,” Johnson said.

“It’s only to keep the lights on.”

In his commissioner report, Ozias thanked county employees who have supported the community during the coronavirus outbreak.

“We are in regular communication with our fellow elected officials at every level of government, and I could not be more proud of the incredible work, effort and partnership that I have seen develop over the last few weeks,” Ozias said.

In other news, commissioners continued a public hearing on a proposed fireworks ordinance to May 11.

The May 11 hearing date is “subject to further change depending on how things evolve,” Ozias said.

Commissioners have been discussing fireworks regulations for more than two years. The current proposal is to regulate consumer fireworks over the Fourth of July week based on fire danger levels set by the state Department of Natural Resources.

A county fireworks ordinance would take effect one year after its adoption.

For instructions on submitting written public comments to the board, click on at www.clallam.net/bocc.

Commissioner meetings are live streamed and archived on the county’s web site.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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