Bloomington, Normal To Consider COVID-19 Emergency Ordinances | WGLT

Bloomington, Normal To Consider COVID-19 Emergency Ordinances

Mar 20, 2020

City councils in Bloomington and Normal will be considering emergency ordinances on Monday to help them more swiftly respond to COVID-19.

Bloomington is expected to adopt the ordinance during its regular meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, while Normal has called for a special meeting at 5 p.m.

“The whole point of this is to be flexible and to be nimble and to be able to react,” Normal Mayor Chris Koos said.

Koos said the two cities’ emergency ordinances are similar, as Normal City Manager Pam Reece and Bloomington City Manager Tim Gleason conferred as they drafted their respective ordinances.

Gleason says Bloomington’s emergency ordinance allows for curbside pickup and delivery of packaged liquor and places moratoriums on water shutoffs or accrued interest or late fees.

“Everybody is focused on what isn’t happening, but what is happening is a very conscious effort and decision to make sure we have the continuity of government,” Gleason said. “We are providing the essential functions.”

It also outlines a succession plan should various city officials contract COVID-19. Gleason said if he were to become ill, city manager duties would fall to Deputy City Manager Billy Tyus, then to City Attorney Jeff Jurgens.

The city’s policy also calls for mayor pro tem Mboka Mwilambwe to step in to fill mayoral duties if Mayor Tari Renner were to become sidelined.

Normal will consider its own emergency ordinance on Monday to give the city council and staff the same temporary powers.

Koos said in Normal, the town’s succession plan which has already been in place allows for mayor pro tem Kevin McCarthy to step in as mayor.

Gleason added the emergency declaration also gives the city manager broader powers to make emergency purchases in response to COVID-19. He notes that could be as simple as allowing staff to buy cleaning supplies for the city on personal time.

“We are not even close to the point of acting like this is a free-for-all,” Gleason said. “This is a step with this emergency declaration to formalize some of the rules that we have given the circumstance we are in right now.”

The emergency ordinance would also allow the two governments to take more aggressive measures such as setting curfews, banning the sale of alcohol, firearms or gasoline over a 48-hour period.

Gleason and Koos both stressed they have no intention of implementing those measures.

“I don’t see that happening here,” Koos said.

The ordinances would last for only four weeks, in which case they would expire April 19. The council would have to re-enact it if necessary. 

Koos added the town council plans to meet virtually on Monday and he may be the only council member there in person to preside over the meeting.

As of Friday afternoon, McLean County reported four confirmed COVID-19 cases.

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