The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced municipalities to alter the ways in which they conduct city business, and on Tuesday, Powell City Council met virtually to implement new, temporary guidelines for its meetings moving forward.
Over a video conference via Zoom, council approved Resolution 2020-11, which, among other things, allows for council to meet virtually for the time being when meetings are necessary. All video conferences will be livestreamed on the city’s Facebook page.
In addition to council meetings, all necessary committee meetings will also be livestreamed through on Facebook.
Meetings must still be open to the public and will be considered as such “if a link or other instruction for accessing the livestream has been posted on the city’s website, Facebook page, or other generally accessible means reasonably calculated to provide general public access to observe the meeting,” the resolution states.
Public comments for or against an ordinance or resolution are still encouraged. Anyone who wishes to submit a comment will need to do so ahead of a scheduled meeting. Comments can be submitted to Karen Mitchell, the clerk of council, via email at [email protected]. Those comments will be provided to members of council in advance of the meeting.
Law Director Gene Hollins said there was an attempt to find a better way to include more citizen participation, to no avail.
“We struggled as we were trying to organize these electronic meetings as to what platform to use,” Hollins said. “We tried to find a platform that would somehow allow more citizen participation via video. It just got to be such a struggle to get all of this organized.”
Should it be necessary for an administrative hearing to be conducted during the span of the temporary guidelines, “the city manager and clerk of council will establish procedures and technical capability for members of council to converse with parties and witnesses, and to receive documentary testimony and physical evidence,” the resolution reads.
The duration of the temporary guidelines will coincide with the emergency declaration declared by Gov. Mike DeWine. Once the emergency ends, council will return to holding its meetings in the council chambers at the Village Green, 47 Hall St.