City of Covington places half of staff on standby unemployment

Employees are eligible for unemployment benefits, but may be called into work if the need arises, city says.

The City of Covington recently placed half of the city’s full-time employees on standby unemployment, among taking other steps to prepare for impending revenue losses as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, according to an announcement Thursday.

The city anticipates the biggest hit to its budget will be in sales tax revenues due to the closure of many commercial businesses as a result of orders issued by Gov. Jay Inslee, according to the city.

Other revenue losses will come from the lack of parks and recreation program fee income and aquatics center revenues during the closures. Gas taxes have decreased because most citizens are ordered to stay home and fewer cars are on the roads.

In March, city departments identified areas to freeze spending, placed variable hours staff such as lifeguards and referees on standby unemployment, and made the decision to leave vacant positions unfilled until further notice, according to the city.

After the governor’s extension of the stay home order, the city placed 50 percent of full-time employees on standby unemployment on April 13. While on standby, employees are eligible for unemployment benefits, but may be called into work at any time if the need arises.

Many of the staff now on standby are from the parks and recreation department as recreation classes, athletic leagues, special events, aquatics programs and the pool were canceled or closed to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Another large part of the employees now on standby are maintenance workers in the public works department.

“Many of our affected full time employees volunteered to go on standby unemployment and we hope that we can get them back to work as soon as possible,” said Regan Bolli, Covington’s city manager. “In the meantime, we will work hard to continue to provide at least the basic services needed for the city to operate.”