The COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic has forced all municipalities, including the city of O’Fallon, to operate under restrictive conditions in order to continue required city business while concurrently keeping residents, elected officials, and city staff safe and healthy.
To help with that situation and also keep everything in compliance with city ordinances, Mayor Bill Hennessy sponsored and introduced Bill No. 7183.1 containing appropriate emergency measures at the city council meeting held on March 26. Given the urgency, the usual rule of using at least two separate meetings for approving legislation was suspended by unanimous council agreement. At the March 26 meeting, the bill was given a first reading, followed by an immediate second reading and a vote for final passage. The bill passed by a vote of 9-0. Council member Rose Mack [Ward 2] was excused from the meeting.
Bill No. 7183.1 states: “All ordinances or other municipal regulations in conflict with the procedures and practices established in this ordinance are suspended until further action by the City Council.”
The bill includes specific emergency authorities for the mayor and the city administrator.
The bill authorizes the mayor to establish temporary procedures for calling and conducting meetings of the city council, including determining:
- the timing, location, agenda, physical presence of members and the public
- alternative public access to meetings
- the manner by which public testimony and input shall be received
- other aspects of conducting such meetings which the mayor may find to be safe and appropriate in light of the current health crisis
The mayor also is:
- authorized to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses arising under ordinances of the city
- obligated to see that all laws of the city and acts of the city council are faithfully executed
- urged to utilize that authority in support of this ordinance.
- authorized and directed to take such actions as may be reasonably necessary or appropriate to carry out the temporary procedures, suspensions, waivers, and other adjustments specified in the ordinance or determined to be prudent or beneficial
The city administrator is authorized to:
- temporarily suspend enforcement of any ordinances, resolutions, policies, procedures or practices of the city
- adopt interim temporary alternative measures, regulations, standards, practices, policies and procedures as reasonably necessary to protect the public health against the current pandemic, while still preserving the general health, safety and welfare of the city as a whole and its residents and businesses
The city administrator authority includes matters relating to:
- duties of city employees and personnel and workplace regulations, rules, standards, procedures and practices
- public and employee access to city buildings, facilities and properties
- assessment and collection of city utility and service fees and charges
- administration of the city’s utility rebate program;
- zoning, traffic and other regulations relating to deliveries to and by city businesses
- zoning and other regulations relating to signage [so that information of importance to the public and economic health of the community can be made known]
- purchasing procedures and the expeditious acquisition of critical supplies and services
- reallocation of appropriated funds and suspension of purchases, service contracts or improvement projects as determined to be prudent, reasonable or necessary in order to protect the city finances
- the city’s ability to sustain critical public services during a potentially protracted and widespread public crisis
- any similar matters which the city administrator deems to be critical to success of the city’s critical public health and safety responsibilities