Coronavirus causes several changes for Hamilton’s city government: What to know

Coronavirus has prompted several changes in the way Hamilton’s city hall is operating, including the way police take reports about minor incidents and a waiving of utility cutoffs during a time when many are expected to be unemployed.

Also, starting at noon on Tuesday, public access to City Hall was temporarily restricted as health officials have urged less contact between people. Utility bills can still be paid online, through the mail, by phone, using a new self-serve kiosk at AllWealth Credit Union’s westside location at 200 N. Brookwood Ave., or at a drop box on Court Street behind the Government Services Building.

The city has established a “COVID-19 Local Impact” webpage that lets citizens know what services are curtailed; how to still accomplish what they need from city government; what meetings have been postponed; and updates about the health situation itself.

The website is at www.hamilton-oh.gov.

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Police in Hamilton are now taking reports of some minor incidents by telephone as a way to reduce contact with others during the period of high coronavirus concerns.

Police Chief Craig Bucheit said officers will take reports over the phone when a crime was not witnessed, no suspect is present and there is no evidence to collect.

“In these limited circumstances our officers have been authorized to contact victims by phone and file a report based on the information provided,” Bucheit said.

He gave the example of a bicycle being taken from a yard sometime in the past few hours, with no witness, no suspect, and no physical evidence present.

“Under these circumstances we would have an officer call and make a report for the victim over the phone,” he said.

The policy does not include car crashes, for which officers will continue to respond in person, Bucheit said.

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The temporary change was made because it’s important for the city’s security that Hamilton have enough healthy officers, he said.

City administrators have been having calls with all directors and chiefs to develop the latest developments. So far, fire and police have reported their call volumes have been “business as usual so far,” said Neighborhoods Director Brandon Saurber.

To help promote small businesses during a time when restaurants and bars are closed, and where being too close in shops is discouraged, the city on Monday created carry-out parking spaces in front of several businesses downtown and along Main Street to make it easier for motorists to pick up food or items.

Residents and businesses are encouraged to do business through the mail or using email. A drop-off box has been created for people wishing to submit packets with large papers who are seeking building or zoning permits. Inspections are happening as they usually would.

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