The Village of Oregon plans to get back to business April 20 – at least virtually.
Over the past three weeks, just as in most places around the world, village services and buildings have been closed while officials sent most employees home to work to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The board hasn’t met since March 16, when it declared COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, a public health emergency, and delegated many of its powers to village administrator Mike Gracz. As a safety precaution, it did not allow any observers in that meeting, including OCA Media, which provides public-access television coverage.
With most services on hold, the board will limit its business to checking on its essential utilities like water and sewer for now. Gracz said some larger projects have been suspended, including a Jaycee Park Renovation plan to put fundraising signs up at the park during construction.
It will also hold meetings, including all meetings of committees, through Zoom video conferencing software, he said. The public would be able to join in via a link presented on the next Village Board agenda.
Gracz said April 20 was a good spot on the calendar for a Village Board meeting, as it’s only a week later than its originally scheduled April 13 date. There are no meetings up until that point, he said, to help curb the spread of the disease.
Since the declaration – which followed orders from the state and county – the village has suspended or canceled most activities, closed or restricted access to village buildings and facilities and canceled meetings. It authorized village staff to work from home or take leave from work consistent with state and federal policies and gave Gracz the power to pay village bills and lead spending of contingency funds through June 15.
Having done all of the above, Gracz said he’s been keeping up with federal legislation that’s passed to see how it is to affect village services and finances. He anticipates some loss in revenue, but he and finance director Lisa Novinska have yet to see how much.
“We will have to see what the impact of the stimulus bill is,” Gracz said, referring to the $2.2 trillion package the president signed Friday, March 27.
The package puts in motion financial relief for millions of Americans set back by the pandemic.
It, according to an NBC News story, increases unemployment benefits for those who typically don’t qualify. It also provides $100 billion to hospitals, $350 billion to small businesses, $500 billion to corporations, and $150 for state and local stimulus funds, the story reads.
Gracz said he won’t know until late April exactly how the bill will impact Oregon.
He said for now, his priority is to follow the law and exercise the powers granted to him by trustees.