The Elgin City Council discussed the city’s plan to face the COVID-19 pandemic during the regular meeting last Tuesday.
Elgin’s plan outlines four threat readiness levels, with threat level four being “normal conditions” and threat level one being “maximum readiness.” City manager Thomas Mattis, who presented the plan to the council last Tuesday, recommended putting Elgin at threat level two, or “high readiness,” in order to keep up with other governments in the area. “It’s not so much about making an individual judgment on the status of things in Elgin,” he said. “It’s also being sensitive to that public confidence issue. We need to be walking the same walk as other cities do.”
View the COVID-19 plan presentation portion of last week's meeting via Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/CityofElginTX/videos/552052238771564/ (article continued below)
Under threat level two, all at-risk, non-essential staff are placed on administrative leave or work remotely, and all non-essential staff are encouraged to work remotely or with staggered schedules. Mattis said all employees will continue to be paid throughout this situation, although the city is still figuring out how to handle that administratively.
City Hall is closed to the general public, with utility payments received at the drive-through and court payments at the City Hall annex. Municipal court is cancelled until further notice; all court dates and hearings are cancelled for the month of March, but operations will continue through telephone and mail.
The city council meeting schedule is reduced to as-needed special meetings, all non-essential city boards’ and advisory groups’ meetings are cancelled or delayed, and meetings are reduced to as-needed only for mandatory city boards and advisory groups.
The front lobby of the Elgin Police Department station is closed to the general public, communications personnel are sequestered and all walk-in complaints are handled by on-duty patrol personnel.
The public works and utilities departments have skeleton maintenance crews, and no new construction projects are begun. Water and wastewater taps for new service are limited to emergency connections only.
All community services, parks & recreation and library programming is cancelled, and the library and the Elgin Recreation Center are closed to the general public. All private facility rentals, including all park facilities, are cancelled. The library continues to provide limited services through a sidewalk delivery program, during which patrons can request books by phone or email to be picked up.
All measures implemented under levels three and four are continued. To see the procedures for threat levels one, three and four, see the full readiness plan at www.elgintx.com/1065/COVID-19.
Mattis said there is no plan to cut back on police, water or wastewater operations since those services are essential. “Those are services where it’s not an option for us to just close the doors and shut those down,” he said.
The plan is focused on the city’s operations and areas of responsibilities, which does not include enforcing restrictions on restaurants or churches. Mattis recommended gathering more legal input on enforcing business closures, but said the council could recommend or encourage businesses to close.
Mayor Chris Cannon said other organizations and entities are looking to local governments for what to do at this time.
“We have enjoyed a shockingly weird way of all working together in this good little town,” he said. “I’m pleased that we don’t have some of the other issues that I’ve seen others deal with.”
At the end of the discussion regarding the COVID-19 plan, the council unanimously passed a motion to take three actions: ratify the county-wide declaration of local emergency that was announced at a press conference last Monday afternoon by County Judge Paul Pape; adopt the City of Elgin’s COVID-19 readiness plan as presented that evening; and acknowledging that the city is now at threat level two.
A special meeting of the city council was called on Monday evening, where the council voted to postpone the city’s May elections to November. View the Facebook Live video from the meeting here: https://www.facebook.com/CityofElginTX/videos/238213147307270/ (article continues below)
City, food bank formalize agreement
The council unanimously approved five-year funding and building lease agreements with the Elgin Community Cupboard.
Like previously-discussed agreements with the Elgin Chamber of Commerce, these agreements document the existing practices and working relationship between the City and Elgin Community Cupboard, which provides food to Elgin residents in need.
Under the agreements, the City agrees to waive all rental payments, utility costs and building maintenance costs associated with the Cupboard’s location at 114 Depot Street. Previously, the Cupboard had paid its own utility costs, Mattis said; in exchange, the Cupboard won’t request additional community funding from the City.
The Cupboard must provide a quarterly activity report, including information such as number of clients helped and amount of food distributed, and must maintain open for a minimum of two hours each normal Tuesday.
Agreement approved for Brickston development
The council approved a strategic partnership agreement to help further the progression of the Brickston Municipal Utility District (MUD).
Brickston is a planned 450-acre residential and commercial development on U.S. Highway 290 west of Elgin in Travis County. After delays due to Travis County’s approval of the development, the City of Elgin and Brickston’s developers came up with a strategic partnership to allow for a limited purpose annexation of the MUD. The city will collect sales tax from commercial development in the MUD and hold the development to the city’s standards; in exchange, the city agrees to provide certain services to the MUD, including development review and approval, building inspection, wastewater services, library access, police services and limited voting in city elections.
The council first discussed the agreement at their previous meeting on March 3.
Contract awarded for wastewater lift station
The council approved awarding a contract for the planned Central Avenue wastewater lift station to Royal Vista Inc., the lowest bidder in the amount of $826,214.
The money has been set aside out of the sale of certificates of obligation from 2016. The bid amount is $76,214 above the original budgeted amount, but this overage would be covered by extra money left over from the well 16 project.
This facility is needed to serve the city’s existing system, not new or coming houses in Elgin, Mattis said.
“It’s a project that’s past due,” he said. “It’s crucial to the collection system, and we’re behind schedule getting it done so we’re ready to move forward.”