GRANTS PASS – The Grants Pass City Council made the shift to remote meetings Monday, March 30, conducting a call-in city council meeting and workshop.
“I want to thank (City Manager) Aaron Cubic and city staff for making this remote meeting possible,” said Mayor Roy Lindsay at the opening of the session.
City staff worked throughout the previous week to facilitate the needs of the remote meeting by testing different systems and technology platforms available, while selecting a process that could still be viewed by the public through online streaming or cable television.
Difficulties with the new format included those presented by councilors using different devices to log in to the meeting from cellphones and tablets to laptops and personal computers using internal and external microphones.
“We continue to face the challenges of coming together without being together,” said Lindsay.
Among the items on the day’s agenda, the council heard details regarding the re-routing of a major water distribution line on the north end of the city, and council authorized Cubic to move forward with securing the contractor to help complete the work.
A review of an amendment to the city’s contract for tourism promotion services was tabled until next week. The council did vote to accept the resignation of the contractor Jon Bowen, who will conclude his services for the city June 30.
During the workshop portion of the meeting, the council heard a presentation from Cubic about potential Covid-19 economic relief measures which could be enacted to assist local businesses.
Cubic presented a list of proposed guidelines, a suggested review process, and potential funding options for various grant programs and incentives the council will further consider at their next meeting. Of specific concern is the effects state-mandated business closures have had on local small businesses and restaurants.
“The full need, and the city’s ability to meet the demand is uncertain,” said Cubic.
Discussion also included a review of the recent stimulus package passed by the federal government and whether local programs would come into conflict with federal guidelines, potentially rendering local businesses ineligible for federal relief.
“I wouldn’t want to hinder any of our local businesses,” said Councilor Clint Scherf.
Councilors were also concerned about the time it may take for federal relief efforts to become available.
“Usually the local government can come to the rescue faster,” said Councilor Valerie Lovelace.
“We can move much faster. We are more nimble,” agreed Cubic.
Councilors were in favor of the concept of creating program details as quickly as possible, but wanted to ensure the establishment of proper qualifications, application processes, and funding capabilities.
“I’m a proponent of these kinds of programs to assist small businesses,” said Councilor DJ Faszer.
“I think it’s important,” Faszer said.
In an immediate effort to assist local businesses and residents, the council directed staff to begin waiving all late fees and disconnect charges for city water customers.
“That’s something we can do right away,” said Cubic.
The council will conduct another remote meeting 11:45 a.m. Monday, April 6. Residents will be able to view the meeting from the city’s website or on channel 183 from their local cable television carrier.