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The Fulton City Council will convene at 6 p.m. Tuesday to vote on an emergency ordinance.
The ordinance, Bill. No. 1580, will amend Chapter 34 of Fulton's city code, which addresses civil emergencies, in order to "grant specific power to the mayor during the COVID-19 health emergency." (The city is not holding a regular meeting, as it usually would on the fourth Tuesday of the month).
Though Fulton City Hall is currently closed to the public, the meeting will be live-streamed on the city's website (bit.ly/2O2A4DS).
The bill's text makes it clear that COVID-19 drove its drafting.
"The novel coronavirus is a global pandemic that has caused the United States of American and the State of Missouri to declare states of emergency," it reads. "City residents have tested positive for COVID-19, which presents an imminent threat of widespread illness within the city and requires emergency action on the national, state and local level to lessen the spread of the disease."
The bill enacts several new sections allowing the mayor to declare an emergency under certain conditions, including imminent danger of health crises as declared by the federal government, state government or local health department.
Other emergency situations include things like imminent danger of a civilian uprising, serious disruption of city utility functions, natural disasters, a declaration of emergency at the federal or state level and so on.
Once an emergency is declared, the mayor or a person he/she designates will have the following powers for the duration of the declared emergency:
- The right to use employees of the city to assist in the preservation of life, limb, and property
- The power to close streets and sidewalks to the use of the public
- The power to impose emergency curfew regulations
- The power to close business establishments or regulate their hours or operations as necessary for the safety of the business or city residents
- The power to close any city-owned buildings and other facilities to the use of the general public
- The power to reassign all administrative and executive employees doing non administrative work as non-administrative or non-exempt employees during the declared emergency
- The power to postpone license and permit processing and deadlines
- The power to waive penalties for city services and functions
- The power to postpone or waive utility shut offs
- The power to amend work schedules and pay schedules for city staff, following the advice and consent of the Director of Administration
- The power to establish immediate or delayed effective dates.
The mayor will have to notify city council when planning to enact any of those powers. These emergency powers are comparable to ones laid out in Holts Summit's city code and those of other municipalities.
When declaring an emergency, a mayor may set an expiration date (which can be extended as needed); or the mayor or city council can declare the emergency to be concluded and order normal operations and regulations to resume.
The current Chapter 34 of Fulton's city code already allows the mayor to accept government aid, enter mutual aid agreements, appoint emergency response teams and undertake other emergency preparedness actions.