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Jul 07

City Manager's Message: 7-1-2020: Phase Three and employee bonuses

Posted on July 7, 2020 at 2:33 PM by Don Mann

While it is hard to believe that it is already July 1, today marks a new fiscal year and the start of Phase Three of Virginia’s COVID Recovery Plan. As such, I have much information to share with you. I apologize in advance for the length of this message, but trust you will find the following information helpful.

Citizen Satisfac?tion Bonus
First, I want to remind you that all eligible employees will receive the Citizen Satisfaction bonus in a pay deposited tomorrow, Thursday, July 2. Typically, this bonus is awarded in December. However, because we have had to delay the planned 3% pay raise until revenues stabilize, the Council supported my request that we provide this bonus earlier in the year.

The bonus is based on the most recent Citizens’ Satisfaction Survey results. Employees will earn 91% (the average of our satisfaction scores for employee courtesy, work performance and City services) of the base amount ($250 for full-time employees and $125 for part-time and WAE employees who average at least 20 hours for the period of June 29, 2019 through March 20, 2020). The parameters of this award also require that full-time employees must have been hired on before March 31, 2020, and part-time/WAE employees hired on or before December 31, 2019, and in an active status as of June 22, 2020. Thus the actual awards will be $228 for full-time employees ($250*91%=$228) and $114 ($125*91%=$114) for eligible part-time/WAE employees.  Council again has generously agreed to gross up the amount so that eligible employees will receive the full bonus amount after subtracting required taxes.

I hope this early award of the bonus will be helpful to you and your families. Please know that the Council, senior leaders and I are all most appreciative of the work you do day in and day out — pandemic or no pandemic — that results in such high citizen satisfaction. This bonus is a token of that appreciation. Thank you!

Phase Three Efforts & Updates
Turning to Phase Three Recovery plans and news, I want to remind us all that Phase Three is not what we initially anticipated it would be. Early on, federal and state officials thought of Phase Three as a “return to normal” stage. However, Phase Three has been modified to be a lessening of restrictions, but it is certainly not a return to normal. While some businesses that were previously closed may re-open, and others which had partial capacity can have more, there are still restrictions on many activities. Most importantly, we must continue to remain cautious and exercise best practices such as wearing masks, socially distancing and using frequent sanitation. This virus is still in our community and it is going to take all of us working together to continue to minimize the spread.
Over the last three weeks, while we have been in Phase Two, we have gradually moved toward a full reopening of all of our city facilities to the public. During Phase Two, we brought back our in-person attendance to 50%. Now, we will move to 75% attendance. Your supervisor and/or department head will meet with you to discuss your departmental practices and personal expectations regarding in-person attendance. If you should have need for individual accommodations, please let your supervisor know who will then work with Human Resources to address your request.

Please know that we have taken all suggested precautions to ensure that we have safe work spaces for our employees and residents. These efforts will continue. I would like to take a moment and recognize our the men and women of our Public Works Department, all of whom have been doing an outstanding job of cleaning and disinfecting our buildings. In addition to daily cleaning, and increased cleaning of high touch areas, our crews will be performing after hours disinfectant fogging of high traffic areas in our buildings several times per week. 

During Phase Two, Human Resources provided guidelines on how to perform a health self-assessment check at home before coming to work each day and about how and when to use temperature check stations that have been set-up in each department. These procedures will remain in effect during Phase Three. If you will be returning to a physical work station for the first time, please take a moment and ensure that understand these requirements and to contact your supervisor if you have any questions. 

Furthermore, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of wearing face coverings. Unless physically distanced at 6 feet apart or greater in private work areas and conference rooms, all employees are required to be wearing face masks that cover the mouth and nose while in city buildings. Again, cloth masks have been provided for each employee. If you did not receive one, please see your supervisor and/or department head who will ensure that you do get one. 

The governor has also required the public to wear face coverings in our buildings. Disposable masks have been provided at main security areas and customer service counters to be offered to the public who may not have a face covering when coming in to participate in a public meeting and/or transact business. That said, there are legitimate, legal exemptions from this requirements for both employees and customers — as outlined by the governor — so I ask that we treat everyone with respect and empathy.

We will continue to encourage our residents to transact business telephonically or electronically, but more will want to come to our facilities. In continuing our  commitment to ensuring the health and safety of our employees, we will delay the opening of most departments to the public to 9 a.m. each day. This will provide the hours of 8-9 a.m. and 4-5 p.m. for departments to stagger work start/end times; provide daily temperature and health assessment checks; and, provide for any enhanced preparation that may be needed. Some exceptions will apply (such as the permit office which services contractors who get an earlier start or the libraries which are offering both curbside and in-person services), but in most cases the public’s time to access facilities will be 9 a.m.-4 p.m. each day. Some facilities — such as community centers — will remain closed to the public for at least the next couple of weeks.

Last, but not least, I want to note that — although new Phase Three guidelines allow social gatherings to be limited to 250 participants or 50% capacity, whichever is less — this will not always be possible. The 6 feet distance requirement (10 feet for fitness facilities) may further restrict the use of a facility. As an example, the Council Chambers actual capacity is a little more than 190 people. At 50% capacity, 95 would be allowed. However, with the 6 feet physical distancing requirement, we can only have about 60 people at a time in the Chambers. Thus, each meeting space has a social distance capacity. Please take this into consideration planning meetings or events in the city facilities or in the community. 

In summary, I want to take a moment and thank everyone for doing their part in helping the city respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Through these efforts, we will continue to protect ourselves, our families and our community as we respond to this public health emergency. In the coming weeks, I ask that we all continue to be flexible as we continue to monitor the health metrics in our city, region and state and be ready for any changes that may come. Public health safety, as measured by health data and science, will inform the steps we take and decisions we make. If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions to share, please do not hesitate to contact your department head or me. 

As always, thank you for your commitment to our great city! 

— Mary
Governor's executive actions


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