(Posted March 25, 2020)
By Andrew Garrett, Staff Writer
London city council held what will likely be one of its quickest meetings of the year on March 19, in part a measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Rather than conduct business from their usual places on the stage of the municipal meeting room, council members modeled appropriate social distancing by being seated individually at tables scattered at least six feet from each other on the main floor.
Residents were given access to the meeting only through online video of the proceedings.
Mayor Patrick Closser, who did not attend the meeting, had previously closed the city building to the public.
This will remain the format for the foreseeable future, at least until the health crisis has been curtailed.
Council member Rich Hays hoped to allay some of the unease residents might be feeling by squashing a rumor regarding the presence of the National Guard in the city.
“Today, I heard there was a rumor that the National Guard was here at a car dealership,” he said. “I went and checked and no, no…it’s not that bad, folks. Everything’s going to be okay.”
Council President Henry Comer also gave words of encouragement.
“We are a strong community and a strong country, and we will make it through this turbulent time,” he said before reminding residents to take time to check in on their neighbors, wash their hands often, and respect social distancing.
Despite the brevity of the session, council managed to pass a number of pieces of legislation including:
- a resolution changing the city policy manual to reflect that upon retirement after 25 years of service, all city employees will be entitled to payment for 50 percent of their accumulated unused sick leave with a maximum payment of 960 hours;
• a resolution adopting the recommendations of the Tax Incentive Review Council– essentially the continuation of agreements between London City Schools, the city, and local employers such as Stanley Electric and BST for tax exemptions for these businesses as public financing methods used as a subsidy for redevelopment, infrastructure, and other community-improvement projects;
- an ordinance authorizing increasing appropriations in the amount of $133,000 for the purchase of a dump truck for the street department, a new police cruiser, and materials for structures at the municipal pool complex, namely a concrete base for the new splash pad and roofing for the bathhouse.