Eliminating library fees, exempting critical employees from some COVID-19 benefits and delaying the county tax sale were all part of the Wasatch County Council’s meeting on Wednesday.
After the second presentation to the public, the council voted to eliminate library fees at the suggestion of Wasatch County Library Director Juan Lee. The program has been adopted in neighboring counties and data has shown that implementing no late fees will encourage greater use of the library.
Lee did outline three exemptions where the library would still charge a fee. One is to cover postage for items shipped to the library. Two is a fee for non-county residents who want a card. The final is for those who lose or badly damage an item.
“In the past, we have been charging the full replacement cost for those items, but in many cases, the item was an old item or was an item that perhaps we were just about ready to retire,” Lee said. “So, we would like to have the ability to assess on a case by case basis. Give the patron the benefit of something that really, we weren’t going to replace it anyway.”
Council also voted to apply some exemptions to county employees in regard to the federal Family Friendly Coronavirus Relief Act. The act provides benefits to employees allowing them to have enhanced leave time for issues related to COVID-19. Under the act, critical industries are allowed to exempt certain employees from some benefits. Wasatch County Deputy Attorney Jon Woodard explains Wasatch County will be using some of the exemptions in order to maintain essential services
“We believe that there’s a number of departments that provide critical services that we can’t have a large portion of our staff not available, or we stop providing the essential resources that need to be provided,” Woodard explained. “The most obvious ones are law enforcement and the health department but as you start looking deeper and realize what it takes to keep these two departments running, it becomes much broader.”
Woodard says they’ve exempted most employees in those essential departments and then tried to give back some of the benefits as best they can.
“We’re trying to be as humane as we can, considering some of the circumstances that they could be facing for themselves and their household with COVID,” Woodard continued. “The main thing that we’ve limited is you can get 2/3 pay and up to 12 weeks off if your kids are out of school. We’re concerned that we could lose a lot of our staff for an extended period of time, if we were to allow that exemption to stay in. But we’ve tried to leave it in for if you’ve got a spouse that’s sick with COVID at home you could stay home and get some benefits.”
At the suggestion of County Clerk/Auditor Cal Griffiths the council also postponed the county tax sale until at least June, with the possibility to go longer if necessary.
Read the original story at KPCW.org