A primary goal of Hamilton City Council when it meets tonight is moving through business efficiently, to minimize spread of coronavirus.
The public will be allowed to attend the 6 p.m. meeting in City Council Chambers, where officials will be more spread out from each other than usual. But in keeping with orders issued by Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton, officials are urging people to watch a live stream of the meeting on Facebook, rather than show up.
One agenda item is an emergency ordinance authorizing a $300,000 grant to the Hamilton Economic Development Corporation to provide emergency assistance to small businesses suffering during the coronavirus crisis. The money is to come from the budget-stabilization fund, which has a $2 million balance.
Another is a resolution authorizing the city manager or a staffer to seek funding and enter into contracts to buy materials needed for the COVID-19 virus.
“Please watch the live stream, please stay home, and please follow all of the governor’s orders,” said city Clerk Nick Garuckas.
The only city staff expected to be there are the city manager, law director, safety director and health commissioner, along with Garuckas.
People in the audience will be allowed to speak, but only about legislation and other matters that are on the meeting’s agenda. Others can have their questions answered if they send them via email to Garuckas at email@example.com.
“We are highly encouraging people to just watch the live stream on TvHamilton (its Facebook page, under tvhamiltonohio) or watch it when it’s recorded and then played later, whatever people want to do,” Garuckas said. “We’re just urging them to follow the governor’s stay-in-home order.”
To speed the meeting, some usual parts will not happen. There will not be the usual presentations at the start, where community groups or others inform the city about what they are doing, or are honored for past deeds. One presentation will happen: Hamilton Health Commissioner Kay Farrar will give a presentation about the coronavirus and what is being done locally to deal with it and stop its spread.
Also not happening is a new feature of city meetings, called “Committee of the Whole,” where city staff give the council previews of legislation that will be considered during future meetings.
For people who ordinarily would show up at a meeting to make comments about something that concerns them, there’s still a way to do that, remotely.
If you send Garuckas an email with “Audience of Citizens” in the subject line, with your name and address in the email along with your comments, “I will read them into the record at the council meeting, and if you’ve written me far enough in advance that I’m able to get a response to your question from the right director, I will probably read the response into the record as well,” he said.
“The public can be there, but we’re going to have a lot of social distancing,” Garuckas said. “People will not be sitting next to each other. It is highly encouraged that people just watch it on TvHamilton if they want to follow along.”
“All of that is just to speed up the meeting, still have the business that we need to have publicly, and try to keep everybody safe,” he said.
Other items on the agenda include:
- the proposed sale of 531 High St. to C Moye Realty Holdings LLC for $350,000, which wants to build “a high-quality car wash.” The city bought the land, which once housed a used-car dealership, for $358,636.75 in December 2014;
- transfer of properties in the 300 block of Washington Street and at 1101 Lane St. to Neighborhood Housing Services of Hamilton;
- transfer of the vacant property at 320 Main St. to the city’s Community Improvement Corporation; and
- a previously scheduled zoning public hearing.
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