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Village Board temporarily updates city employee vacation policy due to COVID, employee shortages

Arthur has lowest vaccination rate in Douglas county

Staff Writer

The Arthur Village Board recently met on Monday, November 15. At the opening of the meeting, Mayor Randall began with a message from the Douglas County Health Department.

“According to the IDPH (Illinois Department of Public Health), 8,319 residents (42.73% of the population) have been vaccinated in Douglas County. Tuscola has 51.57% fully vaccinated, Arcola has 46.22%, Arthur has 17.63%, Villa Grove has 42.86%, and Newman has the highest vaccination rate at 52.25%.” No other comments were made after the reporting.

With COVID and the past year’s events still in mind, it was brought to the attention that members of the police force and other city employees have accrued several hours of vacation. This has been mainly because of employee staff shortages and the effects of COVID. More often than not, there either has not been someone to fill in when another officer needed to take time off, or an officer has had to work longer shifts than normal. Vacation time has built up so much that if it were to just “reset” at the beginning of the year, employees would be losing several hours of earned time. The present policy for vacation is that an employee can carry over double what they earn and vacation can only be paid out for one week. After discussion of a few different scenarios, the board decided that they would make a one time exception for employees in regards to vacation time and pay them out the allowed vacation time due to COVID. In a previous special meeting, a motion was passed to give a $5 increase in pay rate to the police department.

The board also renewed their health, dental and vision insurance for the year. No changes were reported, and they stayed with the same plan that they always have had in the past.

Risk management insurance was renewed as well. After discussion, a motion was passed to renew their insurance with IMLRMA (Illinois Municipal League Risk Management Association). The village has been a part of IMLRMA for the past 15 years continuously, having joined in 2006. The prices have not risen in the last four years. The insurance was renewed at $57,235.40.

Treasurer Mike Hilginberg reported $17,648 in expenditures. Comptroller Erica Carter stated that there was $4,572,315.43 recorded on the most recent bank statement. She also noted that the village received a substantial amount from the rescue grant program which will be used for water and sewer. The next disbursement will be next summer and the village will receive about the same amount (around $300,000).

Trustee Matt Bernius reminded residents to please not blow their leaves into the streets which can block sewers and cause problems with drainage.

At the end of the meeting, there was a general discussion regarding the cell phone signal from our nearby Verizon tower. The signal still has not improved. Village members urged members of the community to call Verizon every time that their signal is down or if they are having problems. If more people continue to complain about the signal, then perhaps someone will come inspect the tower to address the problem.

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