The City of Sun Prairie has instituted a hiring freeze for all non-public safety positions, according to City Administrator Aaron Oppenheimer.

In addition, due to the coronavirus pandemic, city department heads have been asked to review their operating budgets to determine where additional cost savings and cost reductions may be achieved, Oppenheimer said in response to a request from The Sun Prairie Star.

“No employees scheduled 20 hours per week or more have been furloughed of laid off,” Oppenheimer said. “This is consistent with the resolution that was adopted by the City Council at their March 17 meeting. Department heads continue to supervise their staff and assign work that can accomplish remotely.”

City administration will continue to monitor the city’s financial situation, Oppenheimer said, and assess whether work can continue to be accomplished remotely.

“The City of Sun Prairie has a talented, dedicated and committed workforce,” Oppenheimer added. “This has allowed our community to successfully manage the significant growth we have experienced over the last several years. We believe it is in the public interest to do what we can to retain city staff during this difficult and challenging time.”

During remarks to the Sun Prairie City Council on March 31, Oppenheimer said the city began scaling back operations on March 16 — two days after a directive was given to staff. A total of 50 employees are working from home, he told the council.

In addition, Oppenheimer announced the hiring freeze during the council meeting in addition to the announcement about department heads examining where expenses could be trimmed.

“We’re aware of the fiscal situation,” Oppenheimer added, “and are making adjustments accordingly.”

District 1 Alder Steve Stocker thanked Oppenheimer for his leadership. In phone calls he made to department heads, was very impressed with the way staff has been splitting up tasks and maintaining their departmental functions. He praised Oppenheimer with the way he’s been able to handle tasks remotely.

Mayor Paul Esser said during the council meeting that it was his intent to make Oppenheimer the person in charge of city operations and being the spokesperson for the city day-to-day during the pandemic.

“I said to him in the short run we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do for this community,” Esser said, realizing there will be financial ramifications from the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’ll worry about the rest later.”

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