May 22, 2020- Local Emergency Order Update

Mayor's Blog May 22, 2020

At our Work Session Monday night the Council discussed the city’s local state of emergency order that has been in place since March.

You may recall on March 23rd, I declared a local state of emergency due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Only the Mayor can declare a local emergency. However, this local emergency status can only last for three days unless extended by the majority of the City Council.

That evening at our Council meeting we had a thorough discussion, and with input and advice from the city attorney and our Police Chief / Emergency Management Director Paul Falls, the Council unanimously voted to extend the local emergency order declaration indefinitely.

This past Monday, May 18th at our work session, 4 out of 5 (or the majority) of the Council was in favor of continuing the local emergency order status and to review it again near the end of June. Again, we had a good discussion, with input and recommendations from staff. One of the misconceptions may be that the Mayor has the authority to remove the local emergency order declaration. Not so! This can only be done by a majority of the Council.

So what does this mean for the city? How does this change the Council’s roll?

Initially, this declaration was made for two reasons. The local emergency order put’s the city in the best possible position for Federal and/or State reimbursement of expenses – or losses – due to the pandemic, should they become available. It was also made so that staff could react quickly for the safety of our residents, should the need arise.

Under normal circumstances the Council has to approve all expenses that exceed or are not in the budget. If a situation arose where a quick response was necessary for the safety of our residents, we want to make sure that we are prepared to do so.

If we are operating without an emergency declaration, the Council would have to meet. This meeting would have to be posted/announced 72 hours in advance. This three day delay could potentially jeopardize the safety of residents. These are a lot of “What If’s” – however the Covid-19 Pandemic is nothing like anything we’ve ever experienced before. The unknowns are exactly that – unknown or “What If’s”. We simply want to be prepared. We want to make sure we can keep you safe to the best of our ability.

 

This is not an attempt to remove Council oversight or to change any of the Council’s authority. The Council continues to have the same oversight regarding city issues it has always had.

We continue to make all decisions at our Council Meetings. To date, neither myself nor city staff have made any decisions outside the normal practices and authority.

All our meetings are recorded and posted on our web site. I would encourage you to listen and hear for yourself the many points of view expressed at our May 18th Work Session meeting.

City Council meeting audio recordings can be found on the City website (cityofminnetrista.com). Hover your pointer over the “Government” tab, and then click on the “Meeting and Agenda Packets” button on the right side of your screen to access Council packets and audio recordings. Also, you can access all of our meetings on YouTube, as well. Go to YouTube, and in their browser bar type in “City of Minnetrista”, and then select the meeting you want to see