Madison Mayor Bob Courtney, with the support of City Council, Friday announced creation of a “Temporary Job Replacement Program” for community members who are facing economic hardship during business closings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision to close restaurants, bars other service industry businesses as well as the recommendation to curtail public gathering, has either put many employees out of work or curtailed work hours leading to increased unemployment and economic hardship during the pandemic. With more and more positive cases of the coronavirus being reported in Indiana daily, the situation is expected to last weeks or months.

“We know that a lot of people are going to be impacted through the loss of jobs,” Courtney said. “We know there are going to be layoffs that are going to ripple through our community and through a variety of industries and we wanted to do what we can to help maintain some stability in our economy and certainly bring aide to those families who are unfortunately losing their jobs.”

Courtney, speaking live on social media from a City Hall that has been closed to the public except by appointment since earlier in the week, announced an economic stimulus package that could provide work for up to 100 displaced Madisonians to temporarily come work for the city by accelerating the city’s hiring of seasonal workers and putting them to work throughout the city.

The city will be hiring up to 100 temporary employees at the rate of $15 an hour for 30 hours a week for a two-month period. There will be a variety of jobs available within the city streets department, utility department, parks department, and city administration. Job applications, as well as requirements, are available on the city’s website at Madison-in.gov. An application can also be requested at the water department drive-through window off West Street.

Courtney said the temporary employees “will help us keep our city moving and do projects that we know are needed and are already on our project list across the city to make our commnity cleaner, safer, beautiful ... and we think now is the time to take a lead in promoting employment.”

As presented, the jobs would provide about $450 gross pay to each of the 100 applicants hired for the two-month period and cost the city about $360,000.

“Keeping people working during this period will be critical. We support the mayor’s efforts and will do our part to help his administration implement this program,” said Council President Katie Rampy.

To further assist individuals and families who may be struggling during this time, the city is suspending all utility shut-offs, late fees and reconnect fees for the next 60 days. The move follows similar measures announced by both Duke and Vectren energy companies last week.

“We want to make sure we aide families in this time of need so we will not be disconnecting anybody’s water and sewer,” Courtney said. “Now, I do want to ask you that if you do have the resources to pay your utility bills, that you please do so. It’s those funds that help our city government function, so please pay you bills if you can. If you are experiencing economic hardship, this is meant to help you.”

Manwhile, effective immediately, all city micro and revolving loan fund payments have been suspended for 90 days for businesses severely impacted by the pandemic. Additionally, the Historic District Board of Review applications will be streamlined, simplifying the process for individuals and businesses beginning projects in the Madison historic district. Building permit and application fees have been suspended as well, Courtney said.

“It is my hope that our businesses will continue to thrive and prosper during this difficult time, which is why we are also taking steps to assist with economic development efforts in the community,” said Courtney.

“We know that many families and businesses are worried about the impact this pandemic will have on their finances. This is why the City of Madison is taking action to help mitigate the economic impact in our community. We must support one another during this time. City Hall is still providing essential services to our residents, and the staff is available for any question or concerns,” Courtney said.