The Golden City Council still met for its scheduled meeting on March 19, but COVID-19 ensured that business was anything but usual. For one, the council members were not all seated at their assigned …
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The Golden City Council still met for its scheduled meeting on March 19, but COVID-19 ensured that business was anything but usual.
For one, the council members were not all seated at their assigned seats on the council dais but at seats spread around the front of the chambers to ensure that the CDC-recommended six feet of distance between each councilor. For another, there was no audience for the meeting after the council voted to close all city buildings, including the council chambers, to the public.
Also absent was councilman Jim Dale, who did not to attend because had recently returned from attending a conference in DC and was choosing to complete a recommended 14 days of quarantine before going back out in public.
Dale and other members of the public were able to watch the meeting and even submit questions via email by watching a feed of the meeting on the city website.
“Thank you everyone for working with us through this,” Mayor Laura Weinberg said. “Every city is working through how to hold public meetings virtually and we will all get it figured out sometime soon.
Virtual meeting now possible
COVID-19 also made its way onto the meeting agenda as the council discussed and ultimately approved a new policy that would allow councilmembers to electronically participate in a council meeting using video conferencing or telephone if meeting in-person is not prudent or practical due to an emergency.
However, the policy would not apply to meetings involving public hearings or other matters in which the council has a quasi-judicial role. Councilmembers who cannot attend in-person would not be able to participate in those portions of the meeting, which would need to be continued to another meeting if there was not an in-person quorum.
Some of the councilors expressed hesitation and confusion about the wording of the policy and how it would be applied in certain situations. However, the council unanimously approved it, citing the need to have such a policy in place by the next meeting.
“I find it confusing, not easy to read, some parts seem internally consistent,” councilman Casey Brown said. “But at the same time I think it’s important that we get (an electronic participation policy) and have one and we can always revisit it later if it’s not working well.”
Weinberg said approving the policy meant the next meeting could be conducted virtually, provided that the council had the technology in place to conduct such a meeting. That technology was not yet in place on March 19, which is why Dale was not able to participate in the meeting.
Emergency declaration extended
The council also unanimously approved declaration to extend the declaration of a local emergency regarding COVID-19 indefinitely. That declaration, which was initially issued by the city manager, will allow the city to be eligible for state and federal relief funding, if and when it becomes available.
Homeless Navigator approved
Also approved by the council was a memorandum of understanding that signified that the city was formally joining Jefferson County’s homeless navigator program. That program is a new effort for Jeffco communities to collaborate regionally on addressing homelessness.
Each community will employ one or more homeless navigators that will work to connect homeless individuals to nearby resources. The county will employ a coordinating navigator to work with the communities.
“As I think about this pandemic, I think about city council’s roles and we need to build capacity,” said councilwoman JJ Trout. “And I think this is a really great way of us building capacity right now and with our partners working with the cities around us to find other ways to help with homelessness.”
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