CUYAHOGA FALLS — Following Gov. Mike DeWine’s order that non-essential workers must stay home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city on Monday laid off 222 part-time employees.
Mayor Don Walters told city council on Monday that "Unfortunately, we had to take them off the payroll, off the schedule until further notice."
City spokesperson Kelli Crawford-Smith said officials hope to be able to call all of those employees back to work once city facilities can re-open. She said the employees have time to apply for unemployment benefits and noted that while they do not receive severance, they will be paid for three days of work per the state’s mass layoff requirements.
"Senior administration was working to be responsible to both the taxpayers and employees given that most of the part-time staff were employed for programs and facilities that are not operating at this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic," stated Crawford-Smith.
Of the 222 employees, 161 work in the Natatorium, 14 at Brookledge Golf Course, 13 each at Quirk Cultural Center and in parks and recreation programs, and nine at Downview Sports Center. All of those recreational facilities are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are some other part-time employees across various city departments that were also let go.
Walters added that the city’s 395 other full-time employees are "exempt" from Gov. DeWine’s stay-at-home order and have all been retained. Many city hall employees are working from home with computers that are linked and phone calls being forwarded to them.
"We’re still serving the people the best we can," said Walters.
City services and safety forces are continuing their operations. The mayor said he speaks with Police Chief Jack Davis and Fire Chief Fred Jackson every day.
"It’s pretty quiet out there," said Walters. "We’re just not getting the calls ... very little crime."
"They’re just basically keeping an eye on the city," he added.
The city’s service trucks and other vehicles and equipment are being sanitized on a regular basis to keep employees safe, the mayor said.
"As of right now, you should see no interruption in any type of services as far as utilities," said Walters. "We’ll still be out there doing our job."
Playgrounds closed; Special recycling suspended
Due to Gov. DeWine’s stay-at-home order, all city-owned playgrounds are now closed to the public, but the trails remain open.
"Please continue to stay active by taking walks and hikes in the parks, but remember to practice social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet distance between you and other individuals when visiting any of our city parks," stated a post on the city’s Facebook page.
The Simple Recycling program is temporarily discontinuing pickup service in the city due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents are urged to continue filling up Simple Recycling bags and holding onto them until operations can be resumed.
The Simple Recycling service is for collecting and recycling old, stained and tattered clothing, shoes and household goods. The city’s regular recycling pickup service will continue.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.