A Message From the City Manager
In less than a week, things have really changed in our country and in Takoma Park. On Thursday evening, after the State of Maryland and Montgomery County moved to close schools and many offices and gathering places, the decision was made to take similar steps in Takoma Park. In less than 24 hours, we moved to largely a remote service operation. Here is what we are doing:
- Continuing emergency police services as always; other Police Department staff will work remotely
- Continuing critical public works activities such as trash, recycling, food waste, and yard waste collection
- Public Recreation Department and Library services will be suspended; to the extent we can, departmental staff will work on projects remotely
- Other City services will be handled by staff remotely as best we can
We will try to keep it easy for the public to reach us by phone and email and, to the extent possible, we will try to have services and information available in multiple languages.
The next week will be a time of adjustment for staff. While the announced closure is for two weeks – consistent with the declarations of the State of Maryland and Montgomery County – I believe the closures will likely be extended. We will be working to make sure we can serve you well whether the closure is just for two weeks or for two months. Getting our phones, teleconferencing and messaging working well will take a few days and I ask your patience during this time.
I am working to protect staff, both from a health perspective and from a financial one. Employees that must be at work are taking measures to be safe. Besides taking common-sense public health steps (social distancing, washing hands, etc.), our Police dispatchers are asking more questions when receiving calls for service so that our officers can know what to expect. Our police officers have protective supplies and they are following best practices for health situations such as this.
We are requiring staff who are sick to stay home and, as mentioned above, many City staff will be working remotely. We will be paying staff for the time they would have worked and in most cases, we are not docking sick or vacation leave banks for the time they are not at work. We are tracking time that staff members work remotely vs total time they would have worked so that we can monitor the situation and, if federal emergency funds become available to us, we will have the data to support a reimbursement request.
I have heard concern from some community members that our part-time Recreation staff may suffer financial hardship when they are not working. We are continuing to pay our part-time staff for the hours they were scheduled to work.
The days ahead will be difficult ones for our community. It is wonderful that so many organizations and people are stepping up to help people who may need money and food at this time. We are sharing information on many of the resources we have heard about, as well as our own Emergency Assistance Fund.
I am grateful to be able to work with terrific City staff. In these fast-moving and rather scary times, they jumped up to serve. I appreciate their good spirits and commitment to serve the community in new and changing ways.
As we go through these next weeks, we will keep lines of communication open. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask questions or make suggestions. We are gathering these for a Frequently Asked Questions page on our website. And, we can make adjustments in how we are providing services based on this information.
We are in this together!