Emergency declaration gets amended

The Fruitland City Council, as seen in Council Chambers on April 27. City Hall remains closed to foot traffic, except for public meetings, including City Council meetings.

FRUITLAND - As novel coronavirus COVID-19 remains a concern for the community, the Fruitland City Council continues to be concerned, as well; members discussed the city’s emergency declaration on April 27.

Mayor Brian Howell said the city would continue its approach of “wait and see,” prior to considering reopening City Hall at the next City Council meeting on May 11. The council made the decision to close the lobby to foot traffic at its March 23 meeting, opting to conduct business only via telephone, online or at City Hall’s drive-through window.

“As far as us opening, I think watch and see where the numbers go,” said Howell.

At this meeting, councilors discussed the upcoming installation of capability to stream meetings online through Cisco WebEx. The city expects to have this capability installed by May 4. Details on online meetings are to be determined.

In the meantime, Howell said, he wants public hearings currently scheduled to continue, although he said he expects attendance to remain low due to the pandemic.

With the city’s emergency declaration set to expire at the end of April, the council heard from City Clerk Suzanne Pearcy, who said the City Council needed to extend it.

City Administrator Rick Watkins mentioned one concern about the availability of COVID-19 testing as one consideration in deciding when to reopen City Hall.

Howell talked about aligning the city’s emergency declaration with that of Gov. Brad Little, proceeding with staged reopenings as the state does.

“If we go concurrent with the state’s declaration, then we have … something where we have some definite days that things are going to happen,” said Howell.

The move would continue emergency spending authority and not require having to vote to extend it again; rather, it would need a vote to end it when the state ends its declaration.

Councilor Kaci Peterson moved to align the declaration with the state’s, with Councilor Stuart Grimes seconding. The vote was unanimous in favor.

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