MASON CITY — Mason City’s city administrator says the coronavirus pandemic is starting to have a large impact on the city’s workforce, and if things do not improve, city services will start to be impacted.
Aaron Burnett says the city is taking the precautions necessary to protect employees and ensure continuity of operations, but it’s becoming apparent that at some point service disruptions will likely occur. “Some services that may be impacted over the next few months include: the possible reduction in frequency of trash, recycling, and other pickups by the sanitation department; increased time for removal of snow after a snowfall; longer times for customer service in city hall or on the phone, etc. At this point, all departments are running close to normal, but it is likely the trend in the workforce will continue and require notifications of change in services over the winter.”
Burnett says with the current impact that COVID has had on city staff, he wants to make the public aware of potential service disruptions and modifications. “There is a point where if we have winter storms and low staff on sanitation, and you look at all of these things starting to hit at the same time, frankly we’re going to have to make sure that we have that communication, and at some point plowing is more important than getting the trash picked up that day. So we definitely want to make sure that we keep our streets open, that we’re working to provide an avenue for emergency response to people’s homes during winter storms.”
Burnett says snow removal after a major event will be impacted if staff numbers are down from coronavirus illnesses. “Frankly I brought up snow plowing because I have concerns about the ability to continue to do those efforts through the winter if we see substantial absenteeism, because the reality is that’s an all hands on deck situation when we push snow during a big storm. So it’s important that we have the resources available to us, and that requires that people are healthy, and right now that’s just not the case.”
Burnett says coronavirus trends show that things right now aren’t improving and won’t drop off right away. “We went from a 73 day double in cases, I think we’re down to 21 days to double now. So if we double the amount of cases over the next 21 days, I think we all need to think about what that looks like for our services in all aspects of our life. Economic, emergency services, healthcare services, that’s a bleak outlook, and one that concerns me, and I hope we’re able to address that.”
Burnett made his comments during last night’s meeting of the City Council.