April 8, 2020 - League of Wisconsin Municipalities - COVID-19 Update #20
COVID-19 Coronavirus Update
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THANK YOU! Nothing short of heroic. There are no other words to describe the feat that municipal governments pulled off, culminating in yesterday’s in-person voting. On behalf of the citizens of Wisconsin, we salute you and thank you for sustaining democracy.
Jerry Deschane and the League Team
League COVID-19 Virtual Roundtable Conference Calls
This call is for City/Village Officials,
including mgrs./adm. & Staff Only

Friday, April 10 - 9:00-10:00 a.m.

Please check Thursday's Newsletter or our website for the call-in information.

If you aren't able to connect or have a question after participating, please contact Jerry Deschane at email .

We will schedule additional calls as needed. Notice and call-in information will be provided on the League's website and in these Special Edition newsletters, which will also be sent as needed.
POLICY ISSUES
Elections
Reminder - Guidance on Reporting of Election Results


"One common question we're getting from the media is whether there will be any election results tonight after the polls close at 8 p.m.

The answer is no.  Here's why :

The U.S. Supreme Court decision also did not alter the provision in Judge Conley’s amended order which prohibits the reporting of results until April 13. In order to ensure consistent compliance with that order, the number of ballots will be counted on Election Night but votes will not be counted until April 13. 

The U.S. Supreme Court decision did not alter the Election Night Procedures guidance posted at this link:  https://elections.wi.gov/index.php/node/6819 . If you have not done so already, please review that communication and provide it to election inspectors. The Commission plans to post additional guidance regarding procedures for April 13 later in the week.

We'll update later on what information may be available tonight from clerks regarding the number of ballots cast, etc."

Click here to share this guidance from the League's Facebook page to your own Facebook page.
Elections - In the News

Brooklyn offers bank drive-thru voting
BROOKLYN (WKOW) -- They had a unique way of voting in the Village of Brooklyn, south of Oregon.

They moved all in-person voting to the drive-thru window of the State Bank of Cross Plains.

The bank closed for the day to allow this to happen. Read the article... "Like" and comment on this story on the League's Facebook page...

Fox Point Absentee Ballots Not Sent to Voters
Absentee ballots requested by voters in the Village of Fox Point went undelivered by the United States Postal Services ahead of Tuesday’s elections. The ballots were repeatedly returned to village offices despite USPS saying there was nothing wrong with them, according to Scott Botcher, manager of the Milwaukee County village. Read the article...

For additional coverage, see the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel , the Wisconsin State Journal and of course, your local paper if you have one.

REQUEST - Send the League photos of your experience as a municipality during the pandemic for possible inclusion in the League's May The Municipality magazine. We're creating a photo album from the beginning of the pandemic to April 10 when we go to press. They DO NOT have to be election focused. Everyday life would be great. We are specifically looking for photos that include people! See the important details farther down in this newsletter under the Communications heading.
Check out the Wisconsin Elections Commission Election Day blog here .

Updated this morning, April 8:
"There are fresh absentee ballot numbers available from the 7:30 a.m.  report here . Clerks have recorded more than 1 million absentee ballots returned."
Additional Policy Issues
NEW - Water Utility COVID-19 FAQs 

Q: How should a municipal utility contact the Public Service Commission to request to opt-in to waiving credit card fees for its customers during the COVID-19 emergency?
  
A. The utility should file its request on the PSC’s Electronic Records Filing (ERF) system. Please upload an application letter to ERF under your Utility ID [XXXX] requesting the tariff change. 

If your utility has more than one service type, you must file a separate application letter for each service type. The name of the ERF submission should be:

o “Request for Temporary Service Rules Waiving Credit Card Fees in Response to COVID-19 – Water”
o “Request for Temporary Service Rules Waiving Credit Card Fees in Response to COVID-19 – Electric” 
o “Request for Temporary Service Rules Waiving Credit Card Fees in Response to COVID-19 – Gas” 
• The application letter must include the preferred effective date, and if your utility has more than one service type (ie. water and electric), the letter must indicate which service type the request pertains to. 
• By default, the waiver will be effective as of 3/24/20. If the utility prefers a later effective date, please include the preferred date in the letter.

Once PSC Records Management accepts the request, Commission staff will open a tariff amendment docket by service type (TE, TG, or TW).

Please Note: If your utility has more than one service type, the Commission will open a new, separate docket for each service type. You will receive a response from the Commission for each docket. The response will include the utility’s new, temporary service rule language authorizing the utility to waive the credit card fees.

Please contact our Utility Inquiry Line: PSCRecordsMail@wisconsin.gov or 608-266-3766 for help with this process.

The League's COVID-19 Utilities page will be updated to include this information.
Reminder - Wisconsin DNR Issues Environmental Compliance Roadmap During COVID-19

Under Gov. Evers’ Safer at Home order the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will prioritize responding to imminent threats or complaints related to public health, safety and the environment over routine, on-site audits and inspections. The regulated community can go here for a one-stop location to request case-by-case assistance due to likely compliance issues associated with COVID-19. All state laws and regulations remain in effect, unless otherwise suspended by the governor.   
 
The DNR is committed to doing what we can to help those impacted by COVID-19 while continuing to protect environmental quality, public health and safety. The DNR is sensitive to the challenges posed to its regulated community, such as wastewater and air permittees and landfill license holders.  

All entities should make every effort to comply with their environmental compliance obligations. Where full compliance may not be possible due to COVID-19, the DNR created an environmental compliance roadmap for regulated entities. 
 
The DNR advises local governments having a spill or a compliance problem that poses an imminent or actual threat to health or the environment to report it immediately by calling toll free 1-800-943-0003 and selecting “1.” This number is monitored 24 hours a day.
   
For non-emergency situations, the DNR is providing this online process as a means for the regulated entities to request advance compliance assistance from the DNR. This process should be initiated by directly emailing the main DNR contact for the facility or by using the online web form to request case-by-case compliance assistance. 

The DNR will monitor these systems daily during regular business hours. Where safe compliance alternatives are approved in advance by the DNR, regulated entities will be required to maintain records adequate to document implementation of authorized alternative compliance options. 
Gov. Evers #SaferAtHome Shelter in Place Emergency Order


Emergency Order #12 Impact on Municipalities  (PDF) by Steve Zach, Boardman & Clark LLP 

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC)
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
From the League's past COVID-19 Newsletters

Can be accessed here .
Federal
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
NEW - FEMA Public Assistance (PA) Program Information Update

Eric Learn, State Public Assistance Officer, Wisconsin Emergency Management, provided the following clarifications about FEMA Public Assistance:
 
  1. Eligible Election Costs – The cleaning and disinfecting of public spaces including polling sites is an eligible cost, however election related costs are not. Costs must be tied to eligible Category B Protective Measure activities; running elections, while very important, would not fall under the Cat B umbrella. So, the time and supplies needed to clean/disinfect the public spaces would be eligible costs, unfortunately the additional costs associated with printing extra absentee ballots, postage, and time preparing/mailing/counting the ballots would not be eligible costs under FEMA’s PA program. This Fact Sheet provides a description of COVID-19 eligible expenses under the FEMA Public Assistance Program.
  2. Loss of Revenue – is not an eligible expense under the FEMA PA program.
  3. Pay Policies – FEMA determines the eligibility of overtime, premium pay, and compensatory time costs based on the Applicant’s pre-disaster written labor policy. Pay policies established after event would not be eligible.
  4. RPA Deadline – There has been some misinformation distributed that the deadline to submit a Request for Public Assistance (RPA) is April 12, 2020. This is incorrect! FEMA has extended the deadline nationally and it will remain open for the duration of the Public Health Emergency

If there are any questions or concerns, contact:

Eric Learn
State Public Assistance Officer
Wisconsin Emergency Management
Reminder - How to Apply for FEMA Reimbursement Webinars
The “Grants Portal” is the online system FEMA uses to administer their Public Assistance (PA) program. In order to participate in the PA program, and receive reimbursement for disaster related costs, applicants must register for an account and submit a Request for Public Assistance (RPA) in the Grants Portal. Please see this document (PDF) with dates for Grants Portal webinar trainings. There are multiple sessions on Tuesday, April 7; Thursday, April 9; and Friday, April 10. Local governments are eligible to apply for Public Assistance and are considered the “Applicant” under the FEMA Public Assistance program.

“Applicant” session topics:
  • How to register and set up a new account
  • Submit a Request for Public Assistance
  • Upload documents and create tiles
  • Navigate the system throughout the grant process
 
Registration links are embedded in the document.
 
Please contact FEMA-Recovery-PA-Grants@fema.dhs.gov or call the Grants Portal Hotline at 1-866-337-8448 with any questions.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Update
 
On April 1 the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a 124 page document with temporary regulations to implement the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The regulations are now final. 
 
We are reviewing the regulations and how they impact previous opinions we have given and the FFCRA Sample Policy that is available on our website. Based on our reading of the regulations to date, we expect that revisions will be necessary and updates will be provided once our review is complete. We are hosting a webinar on the FFCRA for League members on April 14, 2020 at 1 p.m. Registration below.
 
In the meantime, DOL has posted a recorded webinar on the FFCRA on its site and is offering assistance with questions. To view the webinar visit https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic
 
The DOL Wages and Hours Division (WHD) invites webinar viewers to call the agency’s toll-free help line at 866-4US-WAGE to speak with a trained WHD professional about any questions they may have.

Reminder - While the regulations are final, the DOL is still seeking input on the content of the current compliance materials, which may be found at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic .
 
If you are interested in providing feedback, please see the information that was provided in the League’s April 2 COVID-19 newsletter . Anyone who is interested can participate online at https://ffcra.ideascale.com through April 10, 2020.
NEW - R & R Insurance Sample FFCRA Employee Leave Request Form

Thanks to R & R Insurance for sharing their Employee request form with us for you to use. Find it here .

The League's COVID-19 Employee Policy page will be updated to include this form.
Register today!
 HR6201 Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Webinar
For League Members Only! Free
April 14, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

The League of Wisconsin Municipalities is hosting a webinar for League Members on HR6201 Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) on Tuesday, April 14, 2020 at 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

The US Department of Labor recently released guidance on how to administer sick leave and expanded family leave under the FFCRA. We will dive into the details.

This session will include an overview of FFCRA by Attorney Lisa Bergersen of EngageHR Law, LLC. We will address many of your frequently asked questions as well as allow time for participants to ask questions of their own.

Registration open through Monday, April 13
Register using this link:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, & Economic Security
(CARES) Act
Reminder - Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

The  CARES Act was signed into law March 27 . Provisions in the Act helpful to municipalities are summarized by the National League of Cities  here .

Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau CARES Act Memorandum

The Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau has prepared a memorandum explaining the major provisions of the CARES Act relating to state and local governments, and the potential amount of funding Wisconsin may receive. Please note, this information is preliminary. Available information relating to the CARES Act is incomplete at this time and subject to rapid change as additional guidance and information is provided. As a reminder, municipalities should track all costs incurred that relate to the COVID-19 situation. 
Reminder - COVID-19 Emergency Declaration – Applying for Public Assistance
On March 13, 2020, President Trump declared the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant an emergency declaration for all states, tribes, territories, and the District of Columbia.
  • State and local governments are eligible to apply for Public Assistance. 
  • Eligible emergency protective measures taken to respond to the COVID-19 emergency at the direction or guidance of public health officials’ may be reimbursed under Category B of the agency’s Public Assistance program. FACT SHEET on ELIGIBLE EXPENSES
  • FEMA assistance will be provided at the 75 percent Federal cost share
  • Local governments and other eligible public assistance applicants will apply through their respective state. In Wisconsin contact Eric Learn, the State Public Assistance Officer at WEM, 608-242-3200, for more information.
  • The application deadline for the COVID- 19 disaster public assistance has been indefinitely extended by FEMA. FEMA waived the ordinary 30 day application deadline that would have otherwise closed on April 12. 
If you don't find what you need or if you have resources to contribute,
please email Jerry Deschane.
NEW - Small Business Survey

Thanks to the City of Oconomowoc for sharing their small business survey with us for you to use as a model if you wish. You can find it here (PDF).

It will also be added to the League's Downtowns and Small Business page .
Communications
REQUEST - Please send us your photos typifying your experience during this challenging time for publication in the League's May magazine

Photos will be placed in chronological order. Our goal is to provide a look back at what was happening with you and with your municipalities during these few weeks. It doesn't matter what kind of work you do in service to your community, please share a photo or two!

Photos can be from your work with the City or Village or from your personal experience.

Send your photos straight from your Smartphone in the highest resolution possible to Sandy at league@lwm-info.org

Subject line should be easy for Sandy to flag: Photo for League magazine

In the body of your email, please include:

  • Municipality Name
  • Submitted by or Photo Taken by (so we can give you credit)
  • Date photo was take 
  • Short Caption - just a sentence or two explaining the photo.

We will include as many photos as we can. We will be accepting photos until April 10. You can submit more than once.
In the News

Federal judge dismisses Adams Outdoor Advertising lawsuit against Madison
“The decision means Adams’ challenges to our sign ordinance are dismissed, and the ordinance can continue to operate as it has for years,” May said. “Madison generally has a ban on new billboards in the city, and this will keep that long-standing policy decision.”

Adams officials could not be reached for comment and it’s unclear if the company will appeal the decision. Read the article...


Environmental Regulators Forge Ahead On 'Forever Chemicals' While Some Work Postponed
DNR Continues Work As Able During Coronavirus Pandemic
Wisconsin environmental regulators say they're still moving forward on work to address so-called forever chemicals, known as PFAS, during the coronavirus pandemic. ­­­­­­Yet, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources acknowledges some work is being postponed. 

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are chemicals of chief concern to environmental and public health officials because they don't break down easily in the environment, and they're associated with causing cancer and other health problems. 

Work is still ongoing to craft enforcement standards for PFAS in drinking water, groundwater and surface water, said Jim Zellmer, deputy division administrator with the agency's Environmental Management division. Read the article...


State Lab Of Hygiene Eliminates COVID-19 Test Backlog Though Supplies Still Limited
By Working With Hospital Labs Around Wisconsin, State Lab Says Testing Capacity Has Increased 30-Fold
By partnering with private labs around the state, the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene has increased new coronavirus testing capacity by thirty-fold, eliminating a backlog of test kits.

Still, due to significant shortages of testing supplies, testing is still being prioritized for health care workers, the critically ill and those at high risk for COVID-19 complications.

The State Lab of Hygiene has had to change its testing methods six times over the last month as supplies used to process suspected COVID-19 cases have dried up, according to Dr. Alana Sterkel, assistant director of the Communicable Disease Division.

"So, in that way, we've been working very hard to maintain that 400 tests per day capacity when other labs have not been as successful," said Sterkel. Read the article...


Three ways we can help Americans get through this crisis
Since COVID-19 first impacted our communities, the U.S. response has lagged behind. On the public health side, after weeks of mixed messages about the gravity of the crisis, testing is still limited in cities such as mine. On the economic side, by the time Congress passed its first coronavirus package, the economy effectively had ground to a halt. A consumer-driven economy simply doesn’t function when the consumer is told to stay home. Once again, Congress is attempting to play catch up, considering legislation to respond to our ever-changing economic reality.

I know this reality firsthand as the mayor of Chattanooga, Tenn.

Two months ago, Forbes said my city would have the strongest job growth in the country this year. Today, that seems like a distant memory. Read the story...


WE CAN GO THE DISTANCE TOGETHER: 10 WAYS YOU CAN DO YOUR PART
The University of Wisconsin-Madison Communication Collaborative for COVID-19 Response has developed 10 essential steps to limit the spread of COVID-19. They reflect the overall need for maintaining a physical distance from each other, washing you hands and staying home: Read the article...
Please consider sharing Facebook posts from the Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services Facebook page to your own Facebook page. Scroll down their page to see what they've posted.

Copy and paste this explanation of #SaferAtHome into your posts:

To slow the spread, limit close interaction to the same 5 people TOTAL, NOT different small groups."  #SaferAtHome
Webinars and Training
The FEMA Grant Programs Directorate’s Procurement Disaster Assistance Team (PDAT) is offering a one-hour training webinar for each FEMA region on procurement standards related to COVID-19.

April 8 - 10:30 a.m. for Region 5

The target audience for this training opportunity includes local emergency management personnel, and Public Assistance applicants. The training will cover how to properly contract during emergency or exigent circumstances when using federal funds according to 2 C.F.R. §§ 200.317 – 200.326. 
Information and registration here (PDF).

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HR6201 Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Webinar
For League Members Only!
April 14, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

The League of Wisconsin Municipalities is hosting a webinar for League Members on HR6201 Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) on Tuesday, April 14, 2020 at 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

The US Department of Labor recently released guidance on how to administer sick leave and expanded family leave under the FFCRA. We will dive into the details.

This session will include an overview of FFCRA by Attorney Lisa Bergersen of EngageHR Law, LLC. We will address many of your frequently asked questions as well as allow time for participants to ask questions of their own.

Registration open through Monday, April 13
Register using this link:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

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Local Government Essentials
Programs brought to you by the Local Government Center at UW-Madison Extension

Alcohol Beverage Regulation and Licensing – Part 1
Wednesday, May 20, 2020, 1:00-3:00 p.m.
Under state law, Wisconsin municipalities issue and renew alcohol licenses. New municipal clerks and others looking for a refresher on the basics of alcohol licensing will benefit most from this session. Learn about the different types of licenses, license qualifications, notice requirements, and other statutory requirements as your municipality prepares for the upcoming license renewal period.
Presented by Attorney Carol Nawrocki of the Wisconsin Towns Association and Attorney Claire Silverman of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities.

Alcohol Beverage Regulation and Licensing – Part 2
Wednesday, June 3, 2020, 1:00-2:00 p.m.
Part 2 is intended for both new and continuing officials who want to stay up-to-date with recent changes in the law, current issues, and Wisconsin Department of Revenue resources related to alcohol licensing. In addition to providing these updates, Mr. Quam will be available to answer any questions you submit ahead of time, and if time, those questions posed during the presentation. To submit questions, please email them by Wednesday, May 1, 2020 to  lgc@extension.wisc.edu .
Presented by Tyler Quam Special Agent-in-Charge at Wisconsin Department of Revenue, Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement Unit.
General Resources
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES
COVID-19 is a virus that has not previously infected humans and information about its rate of spread and its effects is still largely unknown, which makes it incredibly important to be highly cautious in dealing with the current situation. 

LATEST UPDATES
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services will continue to provide the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19. You are encouraged to monitor the site for updated guidance as the situation continues to evolve.


Want to share relevant and credible information to your Social Media?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Facebook & on Twitter (Scroll down to see more recent posts.)

The Wisconsin Dept of Health Services (DHS) on Facebook & on Twitter.

And the League's social media:
PLEASE NOTE
Upcoming League Conferences and Workshops
Our priority is your safety and well-being. Decisions on whether to hold, cancel or postpone League events will be made with that priority as our number-one concern. 
 
Municipal Building Inspectors - April 15-17 - postponed.
League's Local Gov 101 Workshops - three programs were scheduled for May. We are working to provide these as webinars. Please stay tuned.
 
Decisions about the June programs, which include the Clerks, Treasurers & Finance Officers Institute, the Municipal Attorneys Institute and an additional Local Gov 101 Workshop will also be made with health and safety in mind. We will provide notice in our newsletters and on our website regarding those and future workshops. Details on cancellation policies and more...