Catherine Pratson

Catherine Pratson

Several St. Mary's County departments are making efforts to aid the community during the COVID-19 pandemic with the help of the county commissioners, the board announced at their meeting yesterday.

After St. Mary’s commissioners declared a state of emergency on March 14 in response to the COVID-19, the county’s department of human resources requested approval for revisions to their current company policies and the St. Mary’s County Government Manual of Personnel Policies and Procedures.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released interim guidance for businesses and employers to plan, prepare and respond to the coronavirus and the document has been utilized as a road map for director, manager and employee communications.

Catherine Pratson, director of human resources for the county, told the commissioners “most if not all of their polices are aligned with CDC guidelines,” but they wish to modify it further to provide maximum flexibility for county employees.

She said they currently offer flexible leave and wish to expand that so that employees can use sick leave or any leave accrued, allowing “them the opportunity to stay home if they felt unsafe in the work place.”

“I think we need to be flexible in this time, so I can support that,” Commissioner Mike Hewitt (R) said.

Commissioner Todd Morgan (R) said “this would show our concern for our employees and their families."

Commissioners approved a policy revision chart provided by Pratson. She also requested the approval for the addition of a pandemic response section to the government document, but Commissioner John O’Connor (R) said he’d like the section to include a policy for “high-risk” employees such as first responders and law enforcement.

Commissioners approved the addition of the pandemic response excluding the long-term solutions, so that more information could be gathered and brought back later on.

The county administrator also requested on Tuesday approval of several amendments to a resolution adopted by the commissioners in December 2016.

The document delegates certain specific authority to the county administrator to execute documents processed in the ordinary course of business not requiring deliberation or any action by the commissioners.

The amendments are being offered to create efficiencies in government and respect for timeliness of submissions.

Rebecca Bridgett, county administrator, told commissioners the amendments, “should an authorized county emergency occur, allow the county administrator [to] approve grant applications that exceed the $35,000 financial cap that was previously approved in the document, all fee simple property purchases at the appraised price, service agreements with utility providers with no cost and approve notifications of grant awards that are consistent with grant applications with the county administrator submitting a report following the emergency." The commissioners approved the amendments.

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